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Mediterranean Diet and Cancer Prevention

| Date Posted: 2/14/2012

Cancer is one of the most feared diseases, in spite of many advances in treatment and on-going research to combat this disease.  It is among the leading causes of death in the United States.  A strong push for cancer prevention has been linked to changes in diet and nutrition.  Findings over the past 40 years have shown that a "Mediterranean Diet" may be a significant aid in cancer prevention.

The traditional Mediterranean diet is characterized by plenty of vegetables, legumes, fruits, nuts and whole-grain cereals, regular use of olive oil, moderate amounts of fish and dairy products, primarily yogurt or cheese, minimal amounts of red meat and moderate consumption of red wine consumed at meals. The Mediterranean diet contains healthy fat, particularly monounsaturated fat from olive oil and omega-3 fatty acids from nuts and fish, and minimizes or avoids unhealthy fats, such as saturated fat from meat and dairy and trans fats from processed foods.

The diet stresses more colorful vegetables and fruits, protein from vegetable sources over meat--especially avoiding red meat--and trading butter and trans fats for vegetable oils such as olive oil, safflower oil, and coconut oil.  In addition, the diet recommends lowering your intake of dairy, and opting for almond or soy milk as a non-saturated alternative to dairy.



"The Mediterranean diet may reduce your risk of cancer. Research by Lisa Verberne published in "Nutrition and Cancer" in 2010 reviewed and summarized the evidence of 12 epidemiological studies in different populations worldwide on the association between the Mediterranean diet and cancer. The research found collectively that evidence shows that the Mediterranean diet is protective against cancer. Research by C. Pelucchi published in "Nutrition and Cancer" in 2009 discovered that selected aspects of the Mediterranean diet reduce many types of cancer. The research identified that increasing vegetable consumption reduces risk of epithelial cancer, increasing fruit intake reduces laryngeal and digestive tract cancer, increasing olive oil and unsaturated fats are associated with lower incidence of several cancers, including the upper respiratory and digestive tracts, and consuming whole grains reduces the risk of various types of cancers."


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It is important to remember that diet alone is not accepted by the medical profession as an accepted form of treatment, and the diet is not clinically tested for cancer treatment.  However, the Mediterranean Diet may aid in the prevention of cancer.  Consult your physician or dietician to determine how to integrate the Mediterranean Diet into your daily nutrition plan.

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