According to the World Cancer Research Fund, following a Mediterranean diet reduces the chance of contracting ER-negative breast cancer by 40 percent.

The diet is based on fish, fruit, nuts, whole grains, and olive oil. It has also been proven to reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke.

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The study has been highlighted as a landmark for determining how diet can affect cancer risk, as ER-negative breast cancer is one of the worst types of breast cancer.

The Mediterranean diet is as good as it can be

Before the study, researchers were aware that the Mediterranean diet, or MD for short, was able to reduce the mortality and risk of cardiovascular disease, but they also noted that evidence concerning cancer was scarce at most.

This led researchers Piet van den Brandt and Maya Schulpen from Maastricht University in the Netherlands to investigate the association between the MD and the risk of postmenopausal breast cancer, characterized by the malfunction of estrogen receptors, known as ER-negative. They took data from 62,573 women aged from 55 to 69 years old who provided information on their diet in 1986. A second round of surveying took place in 2007, 20.3 years after the initial tests. 2,321 participants were diagnosed with breast cancer at some point during the study.

Results displayed a “statistically significant inverse association” between adherence to the Mediterranean diet and a risk of being diagnosed with ER-negative breast cancer.

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Apparently, the most important factor that influenced the reduced danger of suffering breast cancer was nut consumption, followed by fruit and fish. Researchers estimated that if everyone followed the Mediterranean diet, 32.4 percent of ER-negative breast cancer cases could be avoided, which in turn accounts for 2.3 percent of all breast cancer cases.

“With breast cancer being so common in the UK, prevention is key if we want to see a decrease in the number of women developing the disease. We would welcome further research that helps us better understand the risk factors for the different breast cancer subtypes,” stated Dr. Panagiot Mitrou, head of research funding of the World Cancer Research Fund, according to The Guardian.

Things to know about the Mediterranean diet

The Mediterranean diet does not exactly include typical Mediterranean dishes. A study performed shortly after World War II determined that people whose diets have been deprived by war were at a lower risk of suffering from heart disease, mainly because of them having to take part in heavy physical labor and unprocessed foods. Based on this, people of Crete, a Mediterranean isle, were both the poorer and the most healthy when it came to cardiovascular health.

This led to the creation of a specialized food pyramid based on what people of Crete, Greece, and Italy ate on a regular basis during the 1960s when their rates of adult life expectancy were at their highest. The Mediterranean diet also takes into account performing daily exercises, sharing meals, and appreciating healthy food.

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The benefits of the MD are vast. It is known to reduce the risk of suffering many illnesses. For example, its high fiber content slows down digestion and makes it harder for sugar to be processed quickly.

When it comes to liquor intake, the Mediterranean diet recommends drinking a moderate amount of red wine instead of other liquors. This, coupled with a reduced consumption of red meats and processed foods results in a significant decrease in the risk of suffering from heart disease or a stroke. The MD also reduces the risk of death at any age by 20 percent.

People often believe that the Mediterranean diet is hard to follow, but it is important to be aware of certain restrictions and perks that it offers to enjoy its benefits truly. First of all, cooking meals and using beans as a primary source of proteins is way less expensive than buying processed meals or meat, which allows you to spend a little more on wine and olive oil to spice up your meals.

The wine intake is exciting at most, seeing that usually, diets recommend cutting alcohol completely. A glass of wine per day is beneficial to the heart, but drinking more than two can be harmful, just as if you were drinking any other liquor.

Another interesting piece is how the MD tackles pasta. The diet does not use pasta as it is usual in western culture. The Mediterranean diet instead sees pasta as a side dish, never more than a 1-cup serving. The rest of the meal consists of fish, vegetables, bread, and olives. It is also customary to value the time one takes to eat the food, avoiding watching TV or eating in a hurry. It is important to value the taste of food, and as days go by, you will notice that your taste buds will get accustomed to the milder flavors offered by the diet, allowing you to enjoy each meal to its fullest.

Source: International Journal of Cancer