Having a Mediterranean diet can significantly lower the risk of developing breast cancer by almost 40%.
A recently-published study has found that regularly consuming certain foods can reduce the risk of developing even the worst types of breast cancer. Oestrogen-receptor-negative (ER-negative) breast cancer occurs post-menopause and cannot be treated by hormone therapy.
The study's researchers found that diet can affect, either positively or negatively, the risks of developing cancer. “We found a strong link between the Mediterranean diet and reduced oestrogen-receptor-negative breast cancer risk among postmenopausal women,” said Prof Piet van den Brandt, the study's lead author.
62,573 women aged 55 to 69 participated in the study over a span of two decades. The researchers tracked what these women ate over the years to see how closely they followed a Mediterranean diet. 3,354 of these women developed breast cancer. However, the researchers did not include 1,033 of these women due to a breast cancer history or faulty dietary data.
Upon analysis, the researchers found that nuts are the most effective in reducing the risk of developing ER-negative breast cancer. Fruit and fish, meanwhile, are a close second. The researchers concluded that closely following a Mediterranean diet can prevent almost a third of ER-negative breast cancer cases. It can also prevent about 2% of all breast cancer cases worldwide.
Breast cancer is the most common form of cancer among women across all racial, social, and economic backgrounds. In 2012, breast cancer in women was the second most common cancer worldwide, with 1.7 million new cases that year.
At over 80%, survival rates are high in more developed countries. Middle income countries report a rate of about 60%, while the rate in less developed countries is lower than 40%. Low survival rates in these countries may be due to a lack of treatment facilities as well as late detection.
Early menarche, late menopause, and having a child at a late age are important risk factors in developing breast cancer. Alcohol use, physical inactivity, and obesity also contribute to 21% of breast cancer deaths worldwide.
Breast cancer cases are increasing, especially in less developed countries.
This diet was named after the dietary patterns of countries around the Mediterranean sea, namely Italy, Spain, and Greece. Its key aspects are high consumption of certain foods, moderate consumption of alcohol, and low consumption of meat (except fish).
Olive oil is an large component in this diet. The high consumption of nuts, fruits, vegetables, wholegrain, and fish is another important thing to remember. Dairy products like cheese and yogurt are also good for moderate consumption. Red meat, sweets, white bread, and white rice should be consumed in low quantities.
One particular feature of this diet is the moderate consumption of alcohol. However, alcohol is a significant risk factor in developing breast cancer. Experts recommend consuming little to no alcohol to keep breast cancer risks low.
Prevention is the best way to deal with any type of cancer. Switching to a Mediterranean diet may be a life-saving decision in the long run.
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