For a long time, the Mediterranean diet has been associated with prevention of cardiovascular diseases, cancer prevention, and overall health, but it was not known which elements of the diet actually prevent cancer. Now, various studies are being conducted to find the effect of the Mediterranean diet on colorectal cancer (CRC).
One such study was presented at the ESMO 19th World Congress on Gastrointestinal Cancer. It recommends that people include fruits and fish in the diet and avoid soft drinks. Including fish and fruits and barring soft drinks reduced participants’ risk of pre-cancerous colorectal lesions by 30%, compared to those who didn’t eat any of the components of the Mediterranean diet.
Mediterranean Diet for Cancer Prevention: Diet May Reduce Intestinal Polyps in Colorectal Cancer
The study tried to find out the relation between the components of the diet taken separately or in combination, and the risk of developing advanced colorectal polyps. For the study, 808 people undergoing screening or diagnostic colonoscopies were given a dietary questionnaire to know the details of their daily meals.
The participants also took part in a medical and lifestyle interview. They were aged between 40 and 70 years and didn’t have a high risk of CRC.
Adherence to the Mediterranean diet meant an above-average consumption of fruits, nuts, seeds, vegetables, whole grains, poultry, and fish. The diet included a high ratio of monounsaturated to saturated fatty acids.
It also included a low intake of red meat and alcohol. Soft drinks have been linked to an increased cancer risk and are completely excluded from the diet.
The Results of Mediterranean Diet Study
It was found that participants with advanced polyps included fewer components of the Mediterranean diet compared to those with clear colonoscopies. Consuming two to three components of the diet also reduced the risk of advanced polyps by half.
The risk of advanced polyps decreased as the number of components in the diet increased. The author of the study said that among people who had all the three healthy choices, the benefit of reduced risk was compounded to almost 86 percent.
A low-fiber diet that includes red meat, alcohol, and high-calorie foods encourages intestinal polyps, which may turn into colorectal cancer. Polyps becoming malignant depends on a number of factors such as structure, size, and location.
Mediterranean Diet May Also Prevent Breast Cancer
Another study published in the JAMA journal stated that the Mediterranean diet and olive oil could reduce the risk of breast cancer. A researcher at the University of Navarra and CIBEROBN in Madrid, Spain and team studied the effects of the Mediterranean diet along with olive oil and nuts.
This study was carried out on 4,282 women in the age group of 60 to 80 years old. It was conducted from 2003 to 2009. The researchers found that those women on the Mediterranean diet had an up to 68% lower risk of breast cancer than the women on a controlled diet without fats.
There are some limitations to this study as the women did not undergo the screening for breast cancer and more research is required in this aspect. However, this study might prove useful to take it further and carry it out on a larger number of women to confirm the results.
Related: Mediterranean Diet May Also Improve Heart Health
Fruits that May Fight Cancer
Here are the top five fruits for cancer prevention:
1. Citrus fruits
Fruits such as limes, lemons, and oranges have high amounts of vitamin C. It helps fight against the cancer-causing free radicals. It also boosts the immune system and reduces the risk of colon and lung cancer.
2. Camu Camu
Camu camu (Myrciaria dubia) contains high amounts of antioxidants and is considered as a superfood. It prevents genetic mutations in the body that may lead to cancer.
Related: 10 Superfoods to Prevent Cancer
3. Gardenia Fruit (Zhi Zi)
The Nutritional Oncology Research Institute (NORI) recommends eating Zhi Zi or the gardenia fruit to prevent cancer. The fruit contains genipin that causes the cancer cells to die by generating excess reactive oxygen species.
4. Goji Berry (Chinese Wolfberry)
Goji berries have antioxidant and antitumoral properties. A study published in the journal Natural Product Research suggests that goji berries are effective against cancer.
5. Soursop Fruit (Graviola)
Soursop contains good amounts of chemotherapeutic compounds known as acetogenins. It is effective against cancer tumor cells and helps to destroy them.
Final Word on Mediterranean Diet for Cancer Prevention and Overall Health
The Mediterranean diet has been long hailed as healthful, wholesome, and nutritious. It helps you stay fit, lean, and prevents deficiencies. This is because it includes all the essential nutrients one should get in a day; this includes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, poultry, eggs, nuts, olive oil, and red wine, which is optional.
Also, it totally eliminates the consumption of soft drinks, processed meats, refined grains, and salted and preserved foods. Additionally, in this diet, they recommend exercising every day and eating your meals together with friends or family. This surely has a positive effect on your mind and body.
Who will not be healthy by consuming this kind of a diet? It is close to being ideal. This diet helps prevent heart disease, stroke, obesity, and other lifestyle diseases. So, if this diet may be useful in preventing certain types of cancer, it comes as no surprise. In fact, we can also say this is perhaps a rare type of diet one would enjoy and love implementing. Apart from the health benefits, it may give you a lot of joy and satiation.
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“Mediterranean diet may prevent breast cancer, but there are other reasons to pour on the olive oil”, http://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/mediterranean-diet-may-prevent-breast-cancer-but-there-are-other-reasons-to-pour-on-the-olive-oil-201509178299, last accessed July 7, 2017
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