Study: Mediterranean Diet and Olive Oil May Cut Breast Cancer Risk

Sep 15, 2015 12:00 PM EDT | By Jaja Agpalo

A study conducted in Spain revealed the health benefits of allocating to the Mediterranean diet with a little extra virgin olive oil.

Researchers from the University of Navarra in Pamplona said women who participated in the study had a 62 percent lower risk of breast cancer over the next five years or so. The diet used in the study included lots of salad, vegetables, fruits, nuts, a little lean meat, a little fish, a small amount of cheese and olive oil.

"Women allocated to the Mediterranean diet supplemented with extra-virgin olive oil showed a 62 percent relatively lower risk of malignant breast cancer than those allocated to the control diet," Miguel Martínez-González and associates penned in the Journal of the American Medical Association's JAMA Internal Medicine.

The study also revealed that following the Mediterranean dietary pattern with extra nuts and olive oil could help people live longer, WebMD said. Too, it could help preserve brains and reduce the risk of heart disease by 30 percent.

However, it was emphasized that only those who got the extra olive oil have lower risk of malignant breast cancer compared to those who got the nut mixture -- since the results were not considered statistically significant.

"The Mediterranean dietary pattern has attracted considerable attention because, historically, breast cancer rates have been lower in Mediterranean countries than in Northern or Central European countries or the United States," the researchers said. "It took a lot of olive oil to get the protection - it had to make up 15 percent or more of calories," NBC News reported.

"Several biological mechanisms could explain the putative anticarcinogenic properties of extra virgin olive oil," researchers highlighted.  "All types of olive oil provide a high supply of monounsaturated fatty acids, mainly oleic acid, as well as squalene, whereas extra virgin olive oil also contains various biologically active compounds, such as the polyphenols oleocanthal, oleuropein, hydroxytyrosol, and lignans."

Studies have shown Oleic acid may act directly on cancer-causing genetic mutations. Squalene, on the other hand, could aid reverse damage caused by oxidation which is damaging chemical reaction linked to both heart disease and cancer.

To date, breast cancer is the second-largest cancer killer of women in America. It is predicted that more than 232,000 cases will be diagnosed this year and more than 39,000 people will die from it, American Cancer Society informed.

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