Vital Choice - Wild Seafood & Organics
Click to Call
Food, Health, and Eco-news
Mediterranean Diet Slashed Breast Cancer Risk
Diet rich in veggies and fish plus abundant extra virgin olive oil won a rare clinical trial 09/18/2015
Score another one for the famed Mediterranean diet.

By "Mediterranean diet”, nutrition-health researchers mean one that embodies the dining traditions of rural Greece, Italy, and Spain.

The idealized Mediterranean diet features vegetables, fruits, beans, poultry, fish, cheese, extra virgin olive oil, and small amounts of whole grains.

We've covered the health effects of the Mediterranean diet pretty extensively … see these articles and the links in them: Mediterranean Diet: Women's Anti-Aging Ally?, Mediterranean Diet + EVOO Cut Diabetes Risk by 40%, and Women Fare Very Well on Mediterranean Fare.

Sadly, the diets of people around the Mediterranean Ocean have been degraded by an influx of cheap processed foods.

The last part of that article's title matches the key finding of a rare clinical trial in women, which probed the anti-cancer potential of the Mediterranean diet.

Before examining the encouraging results in detail, let's review what's known about the Mediterranean diet and cancer.

Mediterranean diet: An anti-cancer ally?
Scientists at Austria's University of Vienna recently reviewed 33 studies that had looked for links between the Mediterranean diet and cancer risk.

And the Austrian team came to some specific conclusions: "adherence to a Mediterranean diet is associated with a significant reduction in the risk of overall cancer mortality (10%), colorectal cancer (14%), prostate cancer (4%) and aerodigestive [mouth, nose, throat, esophagus, and windpipe] cancer (56%).

Oddly, they failed to similarly quantify the reduction in breast cancer risk seen in several large epidemiological studies (Pelucchi C et al. 2010; Escrich E et al. 2011; Psaltopoulou T et al. 2011; Casaburi I et al. 2013; Escrich E et al. 2014).

At the time of their evidence review, the Austrians found only epidemiological studies ... no controlled clinical trials.

That gap came as no surprise, because it's very difficult to conduct trials that compare the effects of diets on diseases that take decades to develop.

Fortunately, a new clinical trial succeeded in comparing the Mediterranean diet against a standard diet with regard to breast cancer risk.

Mediterranean Diet slashed breast cancer risk
Spanish researchers conducted the rare new clinical trial (Toledo E et al. 2015).

The encouraging results were published in a journal from the American Medical Association (JAMA Internal Medicine).

The study was part of the large PREDIMED (Prevención con Dieta Mediterránea) trial, designed to test the effects of the Mediterranean diet on the risk for cardiovascular disease.

The PREDIMED study involved 4,282 overweight women (average age 68) deemed at high risk for cardiovascular disease.

The women had an average body mass index of 30.4, which falls just over the line that defines someone as obese.

Most of them had undergone menopause before the age of 55 and less than three percent used hormone therapy.

The women were randomly assigned to follow one of three diets for five years:
  • Mediterranean diet + extra EVOO – 1,476 women
  • Mediterranean diet + extra nuts – 1,285 women
  • Control diet with advice to reduce their intake of fat – 1,391 women
The women in the Mediterranean diet + extra EVOO group (and their families) consumed one liter (34 ounces) of EVOO per week.

The women in the Mediterranean diet + nuts group (and their families) consumed 30 grams (just over one ounce) of nuts daily: 15 grams of walnuts, 7.5 grams of hazelnuts, and 7.5 grams of almonds.

Over an average of nearly five years, the authors identified 35 confirmed new cases of malignant breast cancer among the participants. 

Compared with women on the control diet, the women assigned to the Mediterranean diet with added extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) were 68 percent less likely to develop malignant breast cancer.

In contrast, in the women assigned to the Mediterranean diet with added nuts showed only a "non-significant” risk reduction compared with women in the control group.

Olive oil and cancer: An overview
Several recent evidence reviews support the idea that extra virgin olive oil is a powerful ally against breast cancer.

According to the Spanish authors of a review published last year, "Abundant data have attributed a potentially chemo-preventive effect for extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO), the main source of fat in the Mediterranean diet, which is associated with low incidence and mortality rates from chronic diseases such as breast cancer.” (Escrich E et al. 2014)

But it's critical to make the distinction between extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) and the two other grades (virgin and pure).

Only extra virgin olive oil is rich in antioxidants, which are largely (virgin) or completely (pure) refined out of the two other grades.

These compounds, known as tyrosols, are virtually unique to olives, and unusually powerful compared with the antioxidants in other fruits and vegetables.

In a test tube experiment published earlier this year, one of these tyrosol antioxidants – called oleocanthal – killed a variety of human cancer cells, but did no lasting harm to healthy cells (LeGendre O et al. 2015).

Limitations of the new trial
As with most studies, this one had a number of limitations that prevent a definitive conclusion.

First, the number of new breast cancer cases was low, which limits the statistical strength of the results.

Second, the study's design precluded a definite conclusion as to whether the risk reduction was attributable mainly to EVOO or to its consumption within the context of the Mediterranean diet.

However, given the evidence of extra virgin olive oil's apparent anti-cancer effects, and the markedly different results for the group assigned to the Mediterranean diet plus nuts, it seems quite likely that EVOO exerts particularly powerful ant-cancer effects.

Of course, as the authors of the new trial said, "these results need confirmation by long-term studies with a higher number of incident cases.” (Toledo E et al. 2015)

Mitchell H. Katz, M.D., a deputy editor of JAMA Internal Medicine, made two key points about the new trial's results (Katz MH 2015):

"Of course, no study is perfect. Still, consumption of a Mediterranean diet, which is based on plant foods, fish, and extra virgin olive oil, is known to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and is safe.”

"It may also prevent breast cancer. We hope to see more emphasis on Mediterranean diet to reduce cancer and cardiovascular disease and improve health and well-being.” 

Based on a large amount of prior evidence favoring the Mediterranean diet, we couldn't agree more!

  • Babio N, Toledo E, Estruch R, Ros E, Martínez-González MA, Castañer O, Bulló M, Corella D, Arós F, Gómez-Gracia E, Ruiz-Gutiérrez V, Fiol M, Lapetra J, Lamuela-Raventos RM, Serra-Majem L, Pintó X, Basora J, Sorlí JV, Salas-Salvadó J; PREDIMED Study Investigators. Mediterranean diets and metabolic syndrome status in the PREDIMED randomized trial. CMAJ. 2014 Nov 18;186(17):E649-57. doi: 10.1503/cmaj.140764. Epub 2014 Oct 14.
  • Buil-Cosiales P, Zazpe I, Toledo E, Corella D, Salas-Salvadó J, Diez-Espino J, Ros E, Fernandez-Creuet Navajas J, Santos-Lozano JM, Arós F, Fiol M, Castañer O, Serra-Majem L, Pintó X, Lamuela-Raventós RM, Marti A, Basterra-Gortari FJ, Sorlí JV, Verdú-Rotellar JM, Basora J, Ruiz-Gutierrez V, Estruch R, Martínez-González MÁ. Fiber intake and all-cause mortality in the Prevención con Dieta Mediterránea (PREDIMED) study. Am J Clin Nutr. 2014 Dec;100(6):1498-507. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.114.093757. Epub 2014 Sep 10.
  • Casaburi I, Puoci F, Chimento A, Sirianni R, Ruggiero C, Avena P, Pezzi V. Potential of olive oil phenols as chemopreventive and therapeutic agents against cancer: a review of in vitro studies. Mol Nutr Food Res. 2013 Jan;57(1):71-83. doi: 10.1002/mnfr.201200503. Epub 2012 Nov 27.
  • Eguaras S, Toledo E, Buil-Cosiales P, Salas-Salvadó J, Corella D, Gutierrez-Bedmar M, Santos-Lozano JM, Arós F, Fiol M, Fitó M, Ros E, Serra-Majem L, Pintó X, Martínez JA, Sorlí JV, Muñoz MA, Basora J, Estruch R, Martínez-González MÁ; PREDIMED Investigators. Does the Mediterranean diet counteract the adverse effects of abdominal adiposity? Nutr Metab Cardiovasc Dis. 2015 Jun;25(6):569-74. doi: 10.1016/j.numecd.2015.03.001. Epub 2015 Mar 11.
  • Escrich E, Moral R, Solanas M. Olive oil, an essential component of the Mediterranean diet, and breast cancer. Public Health Nutr. 2011 Dec;14(12A):2323-32. doi: 10.1017/S1368980011002588. Review.
  • Escrich E, Solanas M, Moral R, Escrich R. Modulatory effects and molecular mechanisms of olive oil and other dietary lipids in breast cancer. Curr Pharm Des. 2011;17(8):813-30. Review.
  • Galbete C, Toledo E, Toledo JB, Bes-Rastrollo M, Buil-Cosiales P, Marti A, Guillén-Grima F, Martínez-González MA. Mediterranean diet and cognitive function: the SUN project. J Nutr Health Aging. 2015 Mar;19(3):305-12. doi: 10.1007/s12603-015-0441-z. 
  • Katz MH. Can Diet Prevent Breast Cancer? JAMA Intern Med. Published online September 14, 2015. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2015.5053
  • LeGendre O, Breslin PA, Foster DA.(-)-Oleocanthal rapidly and selectively induces cancer cell death via lysosomal membrane permeabilization. Mol Cell Oncol. 2015;2(4):e1006077.
  • Martínez-González MA, Salas-Salvadó J, Estruch R, Corella D, Fitó M, Ros E; PREDIMED INVESTIGATORS. Benefits of the Mediterranean Diet: Insights From the PREDIMED Study. Prog Cardiovasc Dis. 2015 Jul-Aug;58(1):50-60. doi: 10.1016/j.pcad.2015.04.003. Epub 2015 May 1. Review.
  • Martínez-González MA, Zazpe I, Razquin C, Sánchez-Tainta A, Corella D, Salas-Salvadó J, Toledo E, Ros E, Muñoz MÁ, Recondo J, Gómez-Gracia E, Fiol M, Lapetra J, Buil-Cosiales P, Serra-Majem L, Pinto X, Schröder H, Tur JA, Sorli JV, Lamuela-Raventós RM, Estruch R; PREDIMED GROUP. Empirically-derived food patterns and the risk of total mortality and cardiovascular events in the PREDIMED study. Clin Nutr. 2015 Oct;34(5):859-67. doi: 10.1016/j.clnu.2014.09.006. Epub 2014 Sep 16.
  • Pelucchi C, Bosetti C, Negri E, Lipworth L, La Vecchia C. Olive oil and cancer risk: an update of epidemiological findings through 2010. Curr Pharm Des. 2011;17(8):805-12. Review.
  • Psaltopoulou T, Kosti RI, Haidopoulos D, Dimopoulos M, Panagiotakos DB. Olive oil intake is inversely related to cancer prevalence: a systematic review and a meta-analysis of 13,800 patients and 23,340 controls in 19 observational studies. Lipids Health Dis. 2011 Jul 30;10:127. doi: 10.1186/1476-511X-10-127. Review.
  • Razquin C, Martinez JA, Martinez-Gonzalez MA, Mitjavila MT, Estruch R, Marti A. A 3 years follow-up of a Mediterranean diet rich in virgin olive oil is associated with high plasma antioxidant capacity and reduced body weight gain. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2009 Dec;63(12):1387-93. doi: 10.1038/ejcn.2009.106. Epub 2009 Aug 26.
  • Rodríguez-Rejón AI, Castro-Quezada I, Ruano-Rodríguez C, Ruiz-López MD, Sánchez-Villegas A, Toledo E, Artacho R, Estruch R, Salas-Salvadó J, Covas MI, Corella D, Gómez-Gracia E, Lapetra J, Pintó X, Arós F, Fiol M, Lamuela-Raventós RM, Ruiz-Gutierrez V, Schröder H, Ros E, Martínez-González MÁ, Serra-Majem L. Effect of a Mediterranean Diet Intervention on Dietary Glycemic Load and Dietary Glycemic Index: The PREDIMED Study. J Nutr Metab. 2014;2014:985373. doi: 10.1155/2014/985373. Epub 2014 Sep 11.
  • Schwingshackl L, Hoffmann G. Adherence to Mediterranean diet and risk of cancer: a systematic review and meta-analysis of observational studies. Int J Cancer. 2014 Oct 15;135(8):1884-97. doi: 10.1002/ijc.28824. Epub 2014 Mar 11. Review.
  • Toledo E, Salas-Salvadó J, Donat-Vargas C, Buil-Cosiales P, Estruch R, Ros E, Corella D, Fitó M, Hu FB, Arós F, Gómez-Gracia E, Romaguera D, Ortega-Calvo M, Serra-Majem L, Pintó X, Schröder H, Basora J, Sorlí JV, Bulló M, Serra-Mir M, Martínez-González MA. Mediterranean Diet and Invasive Breast Cancer Risk Among Women at High Cardiovascular Risk in the PREDIMED Trial: A Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA Intern Med. 2015 Sep 14:1-9. doi: 10.1001/jamainternmed.2015.4838. [Epub ahead of print].

quote-icon Purchasing from Vital Choice is always seamless, and the fish is superior to everything else! We love Vital Choice! quote-icon

quote-icon is my favorite source for wild Alaskan salmon, sablefish, sardines, and other fish rich in omega-3s... I can't tell you how many messages I get from people thanking me for recommending Vital Choice.
Simply put Vital Choice offers the best seafood and related products available. We have always recommended Vital Choice to clients, friends, and family. As health practitioners we value the sustainable practices and trust this company implicitly!

quote-icon Without a doubt the best canned seafood I’ve ever tasted. quote-icon

Unlike anything you've seen from the grocery store…I recommend Vital Choice—my personal favorite for delicious, fresh, healthy, and completely safe canned tuna and salmon.
Vital Box captures the fresh-caught quality of succulent, sustainably harvested Alaskan salmon and northwest Pacific seafood by cleaning and flash-freezing it within hours of harvest.
I purchased for my brother (difficult to buy for) and he loved it!! He can’t stop raving about the fish! Thank you for quality!

quote-icon The Best Places To Buy Seafood Online, Including Fresh And Frozen Fish quote-icon 

Find out what others are saying about Vital Choice