Mediterranean Diet Could Help Lower Risk of Breast Cancer by 40%

The effect of wine was not taken into account
The effect of wine was not taken into account

07 March, 2017

Researchers in The Netherlands came to their conclusion after monitoring more than 62,000 women for 20 years to see how their breast cancer risk was affected by their food intake. Women were sorted into four quartile groups based on the amount of isoflavone they were estimated to have consumed, calculated from self-reported food frequency questionnaires.

'We found a strong link between the Mediterranean diet and reduced oestrogen-receptor negative breast cancer risk among post-menopausal women, even in a non-Mediterranean population'.

Therefore, Dr. Zhang and her team set out to examine isoflavone intake in 6,235 women diagnosed with breast cancer from the US and Canada.

The study was published today (March 1) in the journal Cancer Research. "We recommend that readers keep in mind that soy foods can potentially have an impact, but only as a component of an overall healthy diet", she adds.

"Epidemiological analyses in East Asian women with breast cancer found links between higher isoflavone intake and reduced mortality", said Zhang.

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"We would welcome further research that helps us better understand the risk factors for the different breast cancer subtypes".

Researchers studied women who, as high schoolers, had consumed diets thought to increase levels of inflammation in the body. With breast cancer being so common in the United Kingdom, prevention is key if we want to see a decrease in the number of women developing the disease. "Women who did not receive endocrine therapy as a treatment for their breast cancer had a weaker, but still statistically significant, association".

This drop in the mortality risk was noticed only in women who had hormone receptor-negative cancer and women who had not been taking anti-estrogen therapy such as tamoxifen. Of those studies, 3,354 women developed breast cancer, but 1,033 of those women were excluded due to their inconsistent diet and/or prior history of breast cancer. It is also characterised by a low intake of red meat and processed foods. They discovered that soy is not only good for breast cancer survivors, but it can act as protection against the disease. However, Dr. Fang Zhang, the research director, cautioned that other studies suggest that the estrogen-like effects of isoflavones may decrease the effectiveness of hormone therapies used in the treatment of breast cancer.

Emma Pennery, clinical director of the charity Breast Cancer Care, said diets and other lifestyle choices do not guarantee prevention. Alcohol is a part of it but the researchers kept it away in their study as it has been earlier linked to cancer.

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