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Olive oil reduces the risk of breast cancer?
Olive oil reduces the risk of breast cancer? Studies have shown that consumption of olive oil seems to reduce the risk of breast cancer.
Breast cancer is now the world’s largest cancer. How can we better prevent it? A Spanish study showed that olive oil in the Mediterranean diet is associated with a reduction in the risk of breast cancer.
Nonetheless, there are some important points in the research you should know before you buy olive oil.
First of all, the research aims to understand the effects of the Mediterranean diet in preventing cardiovascular diseases among high-risk groups of cardiovascular diseases. Studying breast cancer is not part of the study design. The published results are a secondary analysis of a large pre-study from 16 locations in Spain.
The Mediterranean diet means eating a diet full of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, fish, nuts and olive oil, and eating less dairy products and red meat.
From 2003 to 2009, researchers randomly assigned 4,282 Spanish women between the ages of 60 and 80 who were at high risk of cardiovascular disease to one of three diets:
- Mediterranean diet supplemented with extra virgin olive oil (1,476 women)
- Mediterranean diet supplemented with mixed nuts (walnuts, almonds and hazelnuts) (1,285 women)
- There is no special eating habits, but this group of women was given recommendations to reduce the amount of fat in the diet (1,391 women), this is the control group
Extra virgin olive oil comes from the first pressed olives. The lower grade olive oil comes from the olive pulp left over after the first pressing.
The average age of women is 68, and their average body mass index (BMI) is 30.4 (a BMI of 30 or higher is considered obese). Most women go through menopause, and less than 3% of women have used hormone replacement therapy.
These women have to follow the prescribed diet for about 6 years. To ensure that the women followed their eating habits, they participated in group meetings conducted by nutritionists every 15 weeks throughout the study period. In group meetings, women participate:
The olive oil supplement group was given 15 liters of extra virgin olive oil (they consume an extra liter per week)
- The nut supplement group was given enough nuts for the next 15 weeks (they ate 15 grams of walnuts a day, 7.5 grams of hazelnuts a day, and 7.5 grams of almonds a day)
- The control group was given canned low-fat food, books on how to eat low-fat diet, and other information materials
The three groups also received recipes, shopping lists, and suggestions for adding food to the diet. All women also filled out a 14-question survey to ensure that they followed the prescribed diet.
After about 5 years of follow-up, 35 women developed breast cancer.
The researchers said that women who consumed a Mediterranean diet supplemented with extra virgin olive oil had a relatively 68% lower risk of breast cancer compared with control women. Compared with the control group, women who ate the Mediterranean diet supplemented with nuts had a slightly lower risk of breast cancer.
Although this sounds exciting, it is also important to understand these things:
The number of 35 cases of breast cancer diagnosed among 4282 women is very small. This may make the relative reduction in risk appear high.
Since the researchers did not study breast cancer, they did not know how many women had regular mammogram screenings. It is possible that very few women on the Mediterranean diet supplemented with olive oil are undergoing mammograms and are therefore not diagnosed with breast cancer. It may also be that women in the control group have a higher risk of breast cancer than women in the olive oil group. We just don’t know.
- It is not clear whether any risk reduction benefits come from extra virgin olive oil.
- Whether women follow the prescribed diet is based on their answers to a 14-question food survey, which they fill out approximately every 3 months. Some or many women may not remember clearly what they have eaten in the past 3 months or have not followed their prescribed diet.
- The women in the study are all white, Hispanic, and are between 60 and 80 years old and have a high risk of cardiovascular disease. Therefore, the results only apply to that group of women, and it is not correct to apply these findings to all women.
More research is needed before we know whether olive oil can help reduce breast cancer risk and for whom and how.
(source:internet, reference only)