It is generally well known that eating according to the principles of the Mediterranean Diet is a healthy life choice. Now there is evidence to show that eating a Mediterranean Diet supplemented with extra virgin olive oil may considerably lower the risk of breast cancer in women.
The diet is called the Mediterranean Diet because it is inspired by the traditional dietary patterns of Greece, Southern Italy and Spain. The principal tenets of the diet include the consumption of large amounts of olive oil, legumes, unrefined cereals, fruits and vegetables, fish, dairy products including cheese and yogurt, moderate amounts of wine, and low consumption of non-fish meat.
Miguel Martinez-Gonzalez from the University of Navarra in Pamplona, Spain and his team conducted a study that monitored women taking part in three different diets: 1) the Mediterranean Diet supplemented with extra virgin olive oil; 2) the Mediterranean Diet supplemented with nuts; and 3) the Mediterranean Diet with advice to lower daily fat intake.
From 2003 to 2009, over 4,000 women, aged 60-80 years, with a high risk of cardiovascular disease participated in the study. With respect to Group 1, study participants were asked to follow the Mediterranean Diet as well as consume 5.1 ounces of extra virgin olive oil per day. For Group 2, study participants were asked to follow the Mediterranean Diet as well as eat one ounce of mixed nuts per day. With respect to Group 3, participants were asked to follow the Mediterranean Diet as well as reduce their dietary fat intake.
When the researchers followed up with the study participants, about 5 years after the initial contact, the scientists identified 35 confirmed, new cases of malignant breast cancer.
When breaking down the groups, researchers discovered that the Group 1 participants showed a 68% relatively lower risk of malignant breast cancer than those of Group 3. Group 2 participants showed a nonsignificant risk reduction compared with those of Group 3.
The study stated that, “The results of the trial suggest a beneficial effect of a [Mediterranean Diet] supplemented with extra virgin olive oil in the primary prevention of breast cancer.”
The study was published online in the Journal of the American Medical Association - Internal Medicine.