By Sylvia Lee
For many years, the benefits of a Mediterranean diet have been known to help weight loss and reduce the risk of developing a plethora of illnesses including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease.
Now there is evidence it may also help prevent breast cancer from returning.
A study presented at an international cancer conference for the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) suggests that eating habits may influence the occurrence or recurrence of breast cancer.
Conducted as a three-year trial in Italy, the study compared the diets of 307 women being treated for early breast cancer, who were divided into two groups.
The first group of 199 women were put on a Mediterranean diet including four portions of vegetables, three pieces of fruit, one serving of grains per day, at least four servings of fish per week and plenty of olive oil. They were advised to limit their intake of red or processed meat and alcohol.
Comparatively, the second half of 108 women were put on their normal diet and given advice by dieticians.
The findings showed that following three years, 11 women from the normal diet group suffered a return of their breast cancer, whereas none from the Mediterranean diet group did.
The study has substantial implications for lifestyle interventions for breast cancer survivors, however experts say it has limitations and more research is needed to determine the specific foods to eat or avoid to prevent recurrence.
Lady Delyth Morgan, the chief executive of Breast Cancer Now, said there isn’t enough evidence to prove there is a strong link between any specific food type and the recurrence of breast cancer.
“We need to see results from longer-term studies before we can give specific diet advice to breast cancer patients. In the meantime we do know that a varied, balanced diet for general health and well-being, as well as being physically active, can be beneficial to breast cancer patients.”
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