Mediterranean Diet Reduces Risk of Colon Cancer

Higher adherence to a Mediterranean diet has been shown to reduce the risk of colon cancer by 50 percent.

By Jedha Dening
Sep. 9, 2016 08:50 UTC

Colorectal can­cer is the sec­ond lead­ing cause of can­cer-related deaths in the United States. It’s the third most com­mon can­cer in both men and women, with approx­i­mately 135,000 cases esti­mated for diag­no­sis in 2016, with almost 50,000 of those expected to result in death.

The risk of devel­op­ing col­orec­tal can­cer is 4.7 per­cent for men and 4.4 per­cent for women and once diag­nosed the sur­vival rate over a 5‑year period is approx­i­mately 65 per­cent.
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The Mediterranean diet (MedDiet) and con­sump­tion of extra vir­gin olive oil (EVOO) has been shown to be ben­e­fi­cial for numer­ous can­cers includ­ing breast can­cer, blad­der can­cer, brain can­cer, prostate can­cer, and now two recent stud­ies report the MedDiet may play a role in reduc­ing risk of col­orec­tal can­cer.

One study pub­lished in the Journal of Nutrition, inves­ti­gated 4 diet qual­ity indexes, the Healthy Eating Index (HEI) 2010, the Alternative HEI (AHEI) 2010, the alter­nate Mediterranean Diet (aMED) score, and the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) Index.

The study used data from the Multiethnic Cohort (MEC), which included more than 215,000 par­tic­i­pants from var­i­ous eth­nic back­grounds. The pri­mary out­comes were over­all mor­tal­ity and col­orec­tal can­cer-spe­cific inci­dents.

The results showed that a higher MedDiet score was asso­ci­ated with a lower CC mor­tal­ity and lower all-cause mor­tal­ity in women but not in men. Compared to the other diets, the MedDiet was the only diet to be asso­ci­ated with improved col­orec­tal can­cer sur­vival. However, the authors sug­gest the results should be inter­preted with cau­tion and that fur­ther research is needed.

Then came a study pub­lished in British Journal of Cancer, which inves­ti­gated col­orec­tal can­cer risk in Italy, as the authors were inter­ested in assess­ing risk in a Mediterranean loca­tion.

The researchers pooled data from three sep­a­rate hos­pi­tal-based case con­trol stud­ies that included a total of 3,745 col­orec­tal can­cer inci­dents com­pared to 6,804 hos­pi­tal con­trols. Food fre­quency ques­tion­naires were col­lected and used for this analy­sis and the authors using the stan­dard MedDiet Score (MDS) to assess adher­ence to a tra­di­tional MedDiet and its rela­tion­ship to col­orec­tal can­cer.

The results revealed that a high adher­ence to the MedDiet reduces the risk of col­orec­tal can­cer by 50 per­cent.

A higher con­sump­tion of veg­eta­bles, legumes, fish, and monoun­sat­u­rated fats such as extra vir­gin olive oil and a lower con­sump­tion of meat were asso­ci­ated with a sig­nif­i­cantly reduced risk of col­orec­tal can­cer. While low con­sump­tion of cere­als and pota­toes, along with high con­sump­tion of dairy sig­nif­i­cantly increased risk.

The authors con­cluded, this large study con­ducted in a Mediterranean region con­firms a favor­able role of MD on col­orec­tal can­cer risk.”


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