Science shows that certain lifestyle factors including diet can decrease breast cancer risk. In regards to diet, previous research points to the protective effect of a plant based diet similar to the Mediterranean diet.
In this study researchers from the Cyprus Institute of Neurology and Genetics, evaluated whether the degree of adherence to a Mediterranean diet pattern modifies breast cancer risk amongst Greek-Cypriot women. This study is the first investigation of dietary effects on breast cancer risk in Cyprus, a country whose population has traditionally adhered to the Mediterranean diet.
Over 1,700 women were included in the study; of those 935 were women with a history of breast cancer and 817 controls, all participating in the MASTOS study. MASTOS (Greek for “breast”) was the first and to date largest Breast Cancer case – control study to be carried out in Cyprus, with the aim of describing the frequency of established and recognized risk factors for breast cancer among Cypriot women.
Information on dietary habits and intake was collected using questionnaires as well as information on demographic, anthropometric and lifestyle factors. Adherence to the Mediterranean diet pattern was assessed using two different scores.
The results of the study showed that although there was no association with breast cancer risk for either score regarding adherence to the Mediterranean diet, higher consumption of vegetables, legumes, fish and olive oil, were independently associated with decreased risk.
However the researchers noted that it was important to consider that individuals do not consume single foods, but combinations of several foods that contain both nutrient and non-nutrient substances, and conclusions about the effect of consumption of a single nutrient or food group, on a specific health outcome may be misleading.
The lesson learned here: Eat plenty of vegetables, fish, and beans with olive oil to reduce your risk of breast cancer.