Mediterranean Diet with Olive Oil May Prevent Breast Cancer Relapse

A new study suggests that Mediterranean diet including generous amounts of olive oil may reduce the risk of breast cancer relapse compared to a normal diet.

Jun. 14, 2016
By Jedha Dening

Recent News

Though not the only risk factor, accord­ing to researchers, diet is one of the main fac­tors pro­vok­ing the ini­ti­a­tion of cancer, includ­ing breast cancer. New pre­lim­i­nary results now shows diet could also pre­vent breast cancer relapse.

Though the full paper has not yet been released. Preliminary results from a case-con­trol study, pub­lished in the Annals of Oncology, included 307 women diag­nosed with breast cancer and taken for treat­ment at the Department of Oncology-hema­tol­ogy, Hospital of Piacenza (Italy). Following treat­ment of breast cancer, par­tic­i­pants were given the choice to follow their normal diets, or accept addi­tional dietary advice to reduce their risk of breast cancer relapse.
See more: Olive Oil and Women’s Health
The two dietary inter­ven­tions were there­fore, a normal diet or a Mediterranean diet (MedDiet). The MedDiet con­sisted of high intake of fruit (3 pieces day), veg­eta­bles (4 serves day), fish (4 or more serv­ings per week), whole grains (one serve day), and the inclu­sion of gen­er­ous amounts of extra virgin olive oil (EVOO). The women were also able to con­sume one alco­holic bev­er­age per day. The normal diet con­sisted of what­ever par­tic­i­pants had been eating, with the addi­tion of advice on healthy eating from a dietit­ian. There were 199 par­tic­i­pants in the normal diet group and 108 in the MedDiet group.

An in-depth blood sample was col­lected from par­tic­i­pants to assess glu­cose, cho­les­terol, var­i­ous vit­a­mins, min­er­als and hor­mones, inflam­ma­tory mark­ers, and metabo­lites. They were required to com­plete qual­ity of life and phys­i­cal activ­ity ques­tion­naires.

The results after the pre­lim­i­nary follow-up of 3 years show that the MedDiet has reduced the risk of cancer recur­rence. In the normal diet group, a total of 11 par­tic­i­pants relapsed, while in the MedDiet group there was zero relapse or recur­rence observed. Due to the results from blood test vit­a­min levels show­ing higher levels of B‑carotene and pro-vit­a­min A in par­tic­i­pants fol­low­ing the MedDiet, researchers have been very curi­ous about the impact these results could sug­gest, that diet does, in fact, have a great influ­ence on cancer acti­va­tion and reac­ti­va­tion.

Such results are not lim­ited to these new pre­lim­i­nary results, as a study recently pub­lished in JAMA Internal Medicine, based on evi­dence con­ducted within the frame­work of the Predimed trial, looked at 4,282 post­menopausal women with three dif­fer­ent dietary inter­ven­tions and found the risk of inva­sive breast cancer was reduced by 68 per­cent in those that con­sumed a MedDiet sup­ple­mented with EVOO, while there were no such effects for a MedDiet with nuts or a low-fat diet. This study estab­lished that the ben­e­fits were attrib­uted to increased EVOO intake, each addi­tional 5 per­cent of calo­ries con­sumed from EVOO reduc­ing the risk of inva­sive breast cancer by approx­i­mately 28 per­cent.


Though it’s too early to draw any firm con­clu­sions at this stage, the pre­lim­i­nary evi­dence has raised the ques­tion on exactly what dietary advice should be rec­om­mended to people with cancer, or more impor­tantly, those recov­er­ing from cancer. Longer stud­ies that include more par­tic­i­pants will now be needed to con­firm these results.