Parts of the Mediterranean Diet Are More Beneficial for Colorectal Health

Adherence to a combination of three components of the Mediterranean diet can reduce the risk of developing a precancerous colorectal lesion by 85 percent.

Jul. 10, 2017
By Mary West

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The Mediterranean diet (MedDiet) is known to help pre­vent col­orec­tal can­cer. While all the com­po­nents of the eat­ing plan are health­ful, some offer more pro­tec­tion against this malig­nancy.

Researchers have deter­mined the three most ben­e­fi­cial ele­ments include eat­ing plenty of fruits and fish, as well as reduc­ing the con­sump­tion of soft drinks. They pre­sented the find­ings at the recent meet­ing of the European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO).

We found that each one of these three choices was asso­ci­ated with a lit­tle more than 30 per­cent reduced odds of a per­son hav­ing an advanced, pre-can­cer­ous col­orec­tal lesion, com­pared to peo­ple who did not eat any of the MD com­po­nents. Among peo­ple who made all three healthy choices the ben­e­fit was com­pounded to almost 86 per­cent reduced odds,” said Naomi Fliss Isakov, from Tel-Aviv Medical Center.

Colorectal can­cer devel­ops from intesti­nal polyps, which have been asso­ci­ated with a low-fiber diet that is heavy in high-caloric foods, red meat and alco­hol, Isakov added.

In the study, the research team exam­ined dietary ques­tion­naires from 808 peo­ple who were being screened for diag­nos­tic colono­scopies. The par­tic­i­pants, rang­ing in age from 40 to 70 years old, were not at high risk of devel­op­ing col­orec­tal can­cer.

Adherence to the MedDiet was defined as eat­ing greater quan­ti­ties than the group’s median of veg­eta­bles, fruits, whole grains, legumes, seeds, nuts, poul­try and fish. Other defin­ing cri­te­ria included the intake of a high ratio of monoun­sat­u­rated to sat­u­rated fatty acids, along with the con­sump­tion of lower quan­ti­ties than the group’s median of soft drinks, red meat and alco­hol.

The results showed the par­tic­i­pants whose colono­scopies revealed advanced polyps fol­lowed the MedDiet less than those whose colono­scopies were clear. However, even con­sum­ing two to three com­po­nents of the eat­ing plan pro­vided pro­tec­tion com­pared to con­sum­ing none at all, as it was linked to half the like­li­hood of devel­op­ing advanced polyps.

The high intake of fruits and fish, along with low intake of soft drinks proved to be the best com­bi­na­tion for reduc­ing the risk.

In addi­tion, adher­ence to the MedDiet showed a dose-depen­dent rela­tion­ship to pre­ven­tion from advanced col­orec­tal polyps. This means the more closely the par­tic­i­pants fol­lowed the diet, the lower their risk appeared.

In the next phase of the study, the team will ascer­tain if the MedDiet offers pro­tec­tion against col­orec­tal can­cer in high-risk indi­vid­u­als.

This large pop­u­la­tion-based cohort-con­trol study impres­sively con­firms the hypoth­e­sis of an asso­ci­a­tion of col­orec­tal polyps with diets and other lifestyle fac­tors. However, it remains to be seen whether these results are asso­ci­ated with reduced mor­tal­ity, and it is also unclear if and when a dietary change would be ben­e­fi­cial. Despite this lack of infor­ma­tion, it makes sense to con­sider this diet for other health-related rea­sons also,” said ESMO spokesper­son Dirk Arnold, from Instituto CUF de Oncologia in Lisbon, Portugal.

While the study con­firms the link between the MedDiet and col­orec­tal can­cer, it doesn’t prove any spe­cific health out­come will ensue from adher­ing to the eat­ing plan. Nonetheless, as Arnold alludes, because of the diet’s other ben­e­fits, it is the log­i­cal choice for any­one desir­ing opti­mal well­ness.


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