Researchers found that Mediterranean diet could help prevent breast cancer as it apparently lowers the risk of developing oestrogen-receptor-negative (ER-negative) breast cancer by 40%.
The latest findings add to the body of evidence on the healthy diet’s health benefits which include a lower risk of stroke and heart conditions. ER-negative breast cancer affects postmenopausal women and doesn’t respond to hormone therapy.
Lead author Prof Piet van den Brandt reported that his team found a “strong” association between the diet and ER-negative breast cancer in elderly women. This condition is more fatal than other types of cancer.
In their study, researchers tracked more than 62,000 women over 20 years. The team used data from the Netherlands Cohort Study which zooms in on cancer and diet. The team focused on the participants who followed the Mediterranean diet i.e. they ate lots of fruit, fresh veggies, nuts, olive oil, fish and stayed away from white bread, red meat, and added sugar.
The diet also involves moderate consumption of red wine, but because alcohol can up the risk of breast cancer it was eliminated from the study. A previous study, revealed that 12,000 women could fend off breast cancer in the U.K. every year if they didn’t touch alcohol.
Around 3,300 women in the study developed the disease, but 1,033 women were eliminated from the study because they had a family history of breast cancer or there wasn’t reliable data on them.
Researchers found that nuts, fruit and fish were strongly associated with lower breast cancer risk. The team estimates that if everyone followed the Mediterranean Diet 32.4% of breast cancer cases could be avoided.
A study published last year showed that the diet can prevent breast cancer from coming back.