Mediterranean Diet Could Help Lower Risk of Breast Cancer by 40%

07 March 2017, 12:42 | Robert Harris

Women who adhered more closely to a Mediterranean diet were 40 per cent less likely to develop ER-negative breast cancerJM HIRSCH AP

Women who adhered more closely to a Mediterranean diet were 40 per cent less likely to develop ER-negative breast cancerJM HIRSCH  AP

Many factors affect a woman's risk of breast cancer, including her genetic predisposition to the disease, as well as other demographic and lifestyle factors. Women were sorted into four quartile groups based on the amount of isoflavone they were estimated to have consumed, calculated from self-reported food frequency questionnaires.

"Because breast cancer takes many years to arise, we were curious whether such a diet during the early phases of a woman's life is a risk factor", Michels said.

Therefore, Dr. Zhang and her team set out to examine isoflavone intake in 6,235 women diagnosed with breast cancer from the USA and Canada.

Now, a study has said that women following the Mediterranean diet, which is rich in fresh fruits, vegetables, lean proteins and healthy fats and low in refined sugars and saturated fats, are 40 percent less likely to develop ER-negative breast cancer.

Researchers in Australia tracking thousands of patients, found women who reached puberty at age eleven or younger had a fifty-percent higher risk of developing diabetes during pregnancy.

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.

The study was published today (March 1) in the journal Cancer Research.

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"Epidemiological analyses in East Asian women with breast cancer found links between higher isoflavone intake and reduced mortality", said Zhang.

Dr. Panagiota Mitrou, director of research funding at the World Cancer Research Fund, said: "This important study showed that following a dietary pattern like the Mediterranean diet could help reduce breast cancer risk - particularly the subtype with a poorer prognosis". However, high amounts of isoflavone did not associate with higher mortality in women who did receive hormonal therapy.

It's important to note that the study found only an association between an inflammatory diet and the risk of breast cancer, and can not prove that this type of diet caused the women's breast cancer.

The cancer is more likely to prove fatal than other types.

The researchers gave each woman's diet an "inflammatory score", with higher scores indicating diets that, in previous studies, have been linked with higher levels of inflammation in the body.

But the study found the Mediterranean diet only had a weak and non-significant effect on the risk of developing hormone-sensitive breast cancer.

"Our findings suggest that survival may be better in patients with a higher consumption of isoflavones", Dr. John adds.

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