A new study looking at the link between following a Mediterranean diet enriched with olive oil and breast cancer adds to the list of benefits of this diet.
Already known to curb risk of heart diseases and weight gain, as well as cognitive decline, the Mediterranean diet seems to be efficient in curbing the risk of breast cancer.
The study, conducted under the supervision of Doctor Miguel Martinez-Gonzalez of the University of Navarra, Spain has sparked some controversy in the medical community.
The study was conducted on 4,152 women in the age group of 60 and above. All women had reached menopause and hadn’t been diagnosed with breast cancer.
This is one area where medical experts raised their eyebrows. The new study included primarily white women who had no history of breast cancers and weren’t screened beforehand with the aid of mammograms. Also, there is no indication on whether they had a family history of cancer or breast cancer, nor of the other risk factors that could influence the development of tumors.
Of the 4,152 women, one group was assigned a Mediterranean diet enriched with extra-virgin olive oil. A second group was assigned a Mediterranean diet enriched with a mix of nuts, while the third group was simply advised to follow a low-fat diet. For the first group, olive oil amounted to 15 percent of the daily caloric intake.
The results of the study, published in the JAMA Medicine journal showed that in the first group, the chances of developing breast cancer decreased by 68 percent. In the second group, it was also less likely that the women would be diagnosed with breast cancer, although, according to the researchers, the percentage is not statistically significant.
In the third group, the percentage remained unchanged from other studies.
Followed over the course of five years, 35 women of those participating in the study had developed breast cancer. These were split as follows: eight cases in the first group, 10 in the second group, and 17 in the third group, also known as the control group.
While these findings may indicate that consuming a balanced diet rich in fresh vegetables, fruits, white meat, fish and whole grains enriched with olive oil could fend off a difficult to understand breast cancer, they are contested by a large community of medical specialists.
According to Doctor Martinez-Gonzalez, olive oil could be the key factor due to polyphenols, known for anti-cancer properties. That, on top of a healthy and balanced diet that is recommended in any case may curb the incidence of breast cancer.
Nonetheless, while we’re looking for the silver bullet to end malignant breast tumors, we should keep in mind that many risk factors were not taken into account in this study.
A more coordinated approach in a large scale, targeted clinical trial is needed to look at whether an olive oil enriched Mediterranean diet could really benefit the fight against breast cancer.
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