EVOO and a Mediterranean diet cuts breast cancer risk, says study

By Eliot Beer

- Last updated on GMT

“Women allocated to the MeDiet supplemented with EVOO showed a 62% relatively lower risk of malignant breast cancer than those allocated to the control diet."
“Women allocated to the MeDiet supplemented with EVOO showed a 62% relatively lower risk of malignant breast cancer than those allocated to the control diet."

Related tags: Breast cancer, Olive oil

Eating a Mediterranean-style diet with extra-virgin olive oil may lower the risk of developing breast cancer, according to a new analysis of a trial in Spain.

Researchers looked at data from the PREDIMED study​ of more than 4,000 women, originally designed to investigate the effect of a Mediterranean diet (MeDiet) on cardiovascular disease – but which also recorded incidences of cancer and other outcomes. Three groups of participants consumed a MeDiet with nuts, a MeDiet with extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO), or, for a control group, no specified diet, but with advice to reduce fat consumption.

15% of calories from EVOO

“In this secondary analysis of the PREDIMED trial, we found a significant inverse association between consumption of a MeDiet supplemented with EVOO and breast cancer incidence. A high consumption of EVOO (≥15% of total energy intake) seems to be instrumental for obtaining this significant protection,”​ wrote the authors of the new analysis, in a paper published in the journalJAMA Internal Medicine.

“Women allocated to the MeDiet supplemented with EVOO showed a 62% relatively lower risk of malignant breast cancer than those allocated to the control diet. Participants in the MeDiet supplemented with nuts showed a nonsignificant risk reduction compared with women in the control group,”​ they added.

However, as the PREDIMED trial only saw 35 confirmed instances of breast cancer, the study authors suggested their conclusions should be confirmed by long-term studies covering more incident cases of breast cancer.

EVOO, or just olive oil?

They also noted there is a scarcity of studies looking at the relationship between EVOO and cancers in general, including breast cancer. One meta-analysis​ does suggest olive oil consumption – including EVOO – is inversely associated with breast cancer incidence, but the researchers noted EVOO includes a number of compounds which might make it more effective at preventing cancer.

“Several biological mechanisms could explain the putative anticarcinogenic properties of EVOO. All types of olive oil provide a high supply of monounsaturated fatty acids, mainly oleic acid, as well as squalene, whereas EVOO also contains various biologically active compounds, such as the polyphenols oleocanthal, oleuropein, hydroxytyrosol, and lignans,”​ the authors wrote.

On the relationship between the MeDiet and breast cancer, they noted: “No prior nutrition intervention trial has addressed the effect of the MeDiet specifically on breast cancer. In the Lyon Diet Heart Study, a randomised trial, a protective effect of a cardioprotective Mediterranean-type diet against overall cancer incidence was observed, supporting the hypothesis of an anticancer effect of the MeDiet.

“The results of the PREDIMED trial suggest a beneficial effect of a MeDiet supplemented with EVOO in the primary prevention of breast cancer. Preventive strategies represent the most sensible approach against cancer,”​ the authors concluded.


Source: JAMA Internal Medicine

Published online ahead of print,doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2015.4838

“Mediterranean Diet and Invasive Breast Cancer Risk Among Women at High Cardiovascular Risk in the PREDIMED Trial”

Authors: E. Toledo; J. Salas-Salvadó; C. Donat-Vargas; P. Buil-Cosiales; R. Estruch; E. Ros; D. Corella; M. Fitó; F. B. Hu; F. Arós; E. Gómez-Gracia; D. Romaguera; M. Ortega-Calvo; L. Serra-Majem; X. Pintó; H. Schröder; J. Basora; J. Vicente Sorlí; M. Bulló; M. Serra-Mir; M. A. Martínez-González

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