The health benefits of a Mediterranean diet have long been flouted, but now science has found another plus point. Because turns out following a diet rich in fruit, vegetables, fish, nuts, whole grains and olive oil can help reduce the risk of one of the worse types of breast cancer by up to 40 per cent.
Researchers monitored more than 62,000 women over a period of 20 years to see how their breast cancer risk was affected by what they ate. The study, funded by the World Cancer Research Fund found that those who stuck most closely to a Mediterranean diet had a far lower chance of developing an aggressive form of the disease known as oestrogen-receptor negative breast cancer.
This particular postmenopausal form of the disease is often harder to treat than hormone-sensitive cancer and more likely to prove fatal.
The study’s lead researcher, Prof Piet van den Brandt of Maastricht University in the Netherlands, said: “Our research can help to shine a light on how dietary patterns can affect our cancer risk.
“We found a strong link between the Mediterranean diet and reduced oestrogen-receptor-negative breast cancer risk among postmenopausal women, even in a non-Mediterranean population. This type of breast cancer usually has a worse prognosis than other types of breast cancer.”
The news comes as breast cancer statistics continue to cause concern. Every year more than 55,000 women in the UK are diagnosed with breast cancer, and of that figure around 30% have ER-negative cancers. Tragically, around 11,400 women die from breast cancer in the UK every year.
Speaking about the results of the survey Dr Panagiota Mitrou, director of research funding at the charity World Cancer Research Fund said: “This important study showed that following a dietary pattern like the Mediterranean diet, could help reduce breast cancer risk – particularly the subtype with a poorer prognosis.
“With breast cancer being so common in the UK, prevention is key if we want to see a decrease in the number of women developing the disease. We would welcome further research that helps us better understand the risk factors for the different breast cancer subtypes.”
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