THE MEDITERRANEAN DIET: Foods, Recipes & Benefits
A way of eating based on traditional foods
Twelve years ago, when a group of researchers considered the possibility of measuring scientifically the benefits of olive oil, even the producers of the liquid gold did not pay much attention. So with the financing of a public health institution, these researchers bought the extra virgin oil in the supermarket to supply 200 health centers throughout Spain. With the same public funding, they also paid the salaries of nurses and dietitians who weekly offered training sessions to the volunteer participants who would see the benefits of the Mediterranean diet in their own flesh. That is how PREDIMED study was born in 2003 with more than 7,000 participants. Little by little, even the olive oil manufacturers became aware of the importance of the experiment and began to supply the olive oil necessary to continue collecting data.
So, in 2013, PREDIMED published its firsts results on the benefits of the Mediterranean diet and olive oil for the heart. But, although the study was started to check the cardiovascular benefits of the Mediterranean diet, years later the work continues showing data thanks to the follow-up of the medical records of the participants, this time in relation to the most frequent tumor in women.
The last findings derivated of PREDIMED and published in the JAMA Internal Medicine journal shows that women who consume about 4 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil per day reduce their risk of developing breast cancer by up to two-thirds.
For this study, the participant women were divided into three groups whose characteristics were identical except for the diet followed:
Among all the women, the number of breast cancer cases over a five-years follow-up was low, probably because they all had a fairly healthy diet according to what researchers think.
In the case of the olive oil group, there was found a reduction in the risk of having cancer of no less than 68%. With the nuts group, some protection was observed also, but it did not become so significant. As explains the main investigator of the study, in experiments with animals some polyphenols of Extra Virgin Olive Oil have demonstrated their ability to stop the progression of cancer. Therefore, the hypothesis that has more weight is that the consumption of olive oil (always talking about the Extra Virgin category) would be able to stop the evolution of some very incipient malignant cells that some of these women could have.
The study PREDIMED explicitly excluded patients already diagnosed with breast cancer at the time of inclusion, but researchers consider that it would be interesting to evaluate the effect of olive oil in patients with already diagnosed tumors. In their view, and since this food has no health risk, any patient should include it in their diet without hesitation.
In the future, it is very probably that PREDIMED will continue to provide data about the benefits of olive oil in other types of cancer, although to know these data we still have to wait.