Postmenopausal women who consume a traditional Mediterranean diet may have a lower risk for breast cancer, according to a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
A traditional Mediterranean diet—one that is rich in fish, olive oil, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and legumes and lower in red meat and dairy—has been associated with a lower rate of heart disease and cancer, including breast cancer. This recent study was the first to evaluate the purported benefits of the Mediterranean diet within a Mediterranean country—in this case, Greece.
Researchers followed approximately 15,000 women in Greece for almost 10 years. Participants’ diets were assessed by questionnaire, and a score ranging from 0 to 9 was given based on the extent to which the women followed a traditional Mediterranean diet. A higher score indicated greater adherence to the diet. During this time, 240 women were diagnosed with breast cancer.
The researchers concluded postmenopausal women who follow a traditional Mediterranean diet may have a decreased risk of breast cancer. There is a lower incidence of breast cancer in Mediterranean countries, which may be partially explained by the traditional diet.