07 Mar 2017 --- The Mediterranean diet may help reduce the risk of a type of post-menopausal breast cancer by 40%, according to a major new study funded by World Cancer Research Fund.
The Mediterranean Diet pattern includes a high intake of plant-based proteins, such as nuts, lentils and beans, whole-grains, fish and monounsaturated fats - also known as ‘good fats’, such as olive oil. A low intake of refined grains such as white bread or white rice, red meat and sweets is also associated with the diet.
The large study, published in the International Journal of Cancer, looked at over 62,000 women over 20 years, and assessed how closely they followed the Mediterranean diet and how this affected their risk of breast cancer.
The study found that those who adhered more closely to the Mediterranean diet had a 40% reduced risk of breast cancer, in particular the estrogen-receptor negative subtype, which usually has a worse outcome than other types of breast cancer.
Professor Piet van den Brandt, lead researcher on this study at Maastricht University said: “Our research can help to shine a light on how dietary patterns can affect our cancer risk.”
“We found a strong link between the Mediterranean Diet and reduced estrogen-receptor negative breast cancer risk among postmenopausal women, even in a non-Mediterranean population. This type of breast cancer usually has a worse prognosis than other types of breast cancer.”
Dr Panagiota Mitrou, Director of Research Funding at World Cancer Research Fund, added: “This important study showed that following a dietary pattern like the Mediterranean Diet, could help reduce breast cancer risk – particularly the subtype with a poorer prognosis.”
“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.”
She added: “We would welcome further research that helps us better understand the risk factors for the different breast cancer subtypes.”
This is not the first study to praise the benefits of the Mediterranean diet, with many recent studies associating the improvement of chronic diseases such as obesity and diabetes with the diet.
Just last month, Montserrat Fitó, M.D., Ph.D., and coordinator of the Cardiovascular Risk and Nutrition Research Group at the Hospital del Mar Medical Research Institute in Barcelona and at the Ciber of Physipathology of Obesity and Nutrition (CIBEROBN), Spain, spoke to NutritionInsight about her recent study suggesting virgin olive oil can boost ‘good’ cholesterol as part of a Mediterranean diet.
“Following a Mediterranean diet rich in virgin olive oil could protect our cardiovascular health in several ways, including making our ‘good cholesterol’ work in a more complete way,” she said.
“In our case, our conclusions are particularly addressed to people with high cardiovascular risk (e.g., with diabetes, high cholesterol levels, hypertension, obesity, etc.), but its benefits may be extended to other population as well.”
The widespread approval of the diet may also present the nutrition industry with an opportunity to hone in on the health message associated with the “Mediterranean diet” that consumers are becoming more and more familiar with.
Growth associated with the term is certainly on the cards. According to Innova Market Insights, food product launches in the organic sector listing “Mediterranean Diet” as a product description or claim feature rose 1.5% from 2015 to 2016.
“The Mediterranean Diet is a healthy, tasty, and varied diet,” Fitó said.
“It is cheap, planet-friendly, and easy to follow. Thus, we believe that everyone should, at least, give it a try.”
by Hannah Gardiner
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Source: Nutrition Horizon
Soy Consumption Linked to Higher Breast Cancer Survival Rate.
06 Mar 2017 --- New research from the US has indicated that dietary soy products are safe and even beneficial for women diagnosed with breast cancer. The findings may help resolve controversies over soy's potential link to breast cancer outcomes, while also offering opportunity to soy food producers.
Soy foods are considered among the healthiest for human consumption, but their estrogen-like properties have raised concerns of a potential increased risk of breast cancer. This is because in hormone receptor-positive cancer, the most common form of the disease, there are some concerns that high estrogen levels help cancer cells grow and spread - though this remains controversial.
“Isoflavones, the component of soy that has estrogen-like properties, have been shown to slow the growth of breast cancer cells in laboratory studies, and epidemiological analyses in East Asian women with breast cancer found links between higher isoflavone intake and reduced mortality,” explained Fang Fang Zhang, MD, PhD, of the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University.
“However, other research has suggested that the estrogen-like effects of isoflavones may reduce the effectiveness of hormone therapies used to treat breast cancer.”
“Because of this disparity, it remains unknown whether isoflavone consumption should be encouraged or avoided for breast cancer patients.”
To provide some clarity, Dr. Zhang and her colleagues looked at the relationship between dietary intake of isoflavones and death from any cause in 6235 American and Canadian women diagnosed with breast cancer.
Over a median follow-up of nine years, women with breast cancer who consumed high amounts of isoflavones had a 21 percent lower risk of dying than women who consumed low amounts.
This decrease was largely confined to women with hormone receptor-negative tumors and women who were not treated with anti-estrogen therapy such as tamoxifen (which blocks the effects of estrogen).
In contrast to some previous research, high levels of isoflavone intake were not associated with greater mortality among women receiving hormonal therapy.
“Based on our results, we do not see a detrimental effect of soy food intake among women who were treated with endocrine therapy,” said Dr. Zhang. “For women with hormone receptor-negative breast cancer, soy food products may potentially have a protective effect.”
“Women who did not receive endocrine therapy as a treatment for their breast cancer had a weaker, but still statistically significant, association.”
“Whether lifestyle factors can improve survival after diagnosis is an important question for women diagnosed with this more aggressive type of breast cancer,” said senior author Esther John, PhD, of the Cancer Prevention Institute of California.
“Our findings suggest that survival may be better in patients with a higher consumption of isoflavones.”
However, the study’s investigators noted that they examined only naturally occurring dietary isoflavones, not isoflavones from supplements. While the finding may present untapped potential for food companies specializing in soy and soya products, more research is needed to identify if supplementation of isoflavones could benefit consumers.
Nevertheless, the findings seem likely to present some sort of opportunity for the food industry. In an accompanying editorial to the study, Omer Kucuk, MD, of the Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University, noted that the United States is the number 1 soy producer in the world and is in a great position to initiate changes in health policy encouraging soy intake through diet.
“We now have evidence that soy foods not only prevent breast cancer but also benefit women who have breast cancer. Therefore, we can recommend women to consume soy foods because of soy's many health benefits,” he wrote.
Source: Nutrition Horizon