News, Nutrition

Following a Greek Diet May Protect from Breast Cancer

A new study coming from Spain showed that women who were consuming about 4 tablespoons of olive oil a day and a Mediterranean diet were less likely to have breast cancer 5 years later. According to the researchers the women consuming olive oil had a 68% less risk of developing breast cancer.

The reason I say Greek Diet in the title is because only Greeks consume about that amount of olive oil (4 tablespoons) on a daily basis, Italians and Spaniards consume half of that. So not something out of the ordinary if you are following a Greek Mediterranean diet.

This is not the first time olive oil has been associated with reduced cancer risk, previous studies have also observed a protective effect of olive oil for breast cancer. Certain components of olive oil have anti-inflammatory and ant carcinogenic action and may affect estrogens and progesterone tumors. The study comes from a larger study, the now famous Predimed study , a long-term nutritional intervention study aimed to assess the efficacy of the Mediterranean diet in the primary prevention of cardiovascular diseases.

It needs to be noted that the women in the study were following a Mediterranean diet and that is important because it may be a combination of the diet and olive oil that has this effect, not just the olive oil alone,

Now I’ve mentioned it before, that to get the benefits of the Mediterranean diet and olive oil you need to eat a minimal of 3 tablespoons of olive oil a day, not one teaspoon which is the average consumption in the US.

Again, to do this without gaining weight you have to follow a Greek-Mediterranean diet that is heavy on vegetable main courses so that there is a balance in calories.

You also have to make sure you use extra virgin olive oil that is fresh, which means it would be good to get an olive oil with a harvest date on the bottle. Old olive oil does not have those benefits.

Photo by John Rutter for flickr

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10 Comments

  • Reply caryn October 28, 2015 at 6:20 pm

    I really am loving your website and recipes. I think they are brilliant. Please could you tell me where I can get olive oil with a harvest date on.

    Thanks I live in the UK – South London area.

  • Reply Jason Sandeman September 17, 2015 at 1:54 pm

    I just love the Greek diet because the food is so delicious, and close to the earth. The added benefit of cancer prevention is like icing on the cake. I’m not sure if it’s all about the Olive oil, or if it’s about cooking like the Greek do. Local, organic, sustainable food. Nothing picked until it is ready to go, and as unadulterated as possible.

    • Reply Sia September 21, 2015 at 5:51 am

      My parents had long and healthy lives (95 and 99+3 month). My mom used olive oil and butter. As they aged though, my mom had high cholesterol and she cut back on the butter and meat, but continued to use olive oil. Her cholesterol dropped and she did not take the medication. I truly believe that eating organic as much as possible, less meat, and more grain foods is better. Fast food and processed food is bad for us.

      • Reply Elena Paravantes RD September 23, 2015 at 7:10 am

        Wow! Yes, we should first try to use our diet to improve our health and then medications.

    • Reply Elena Paravantes RD September 23, 2015 at 7:09 am

      So true Jason!

  • Reply Ina September 17, 2015 at 3:05 am

    I am consuming olive oil for many years now….like 30 or so … but unfortunately I have breast cancer since 2012….so be careful with what you write down please.

    • Reply Elena Paravantes RD September 17, 2015 at 4:31 am

      Dear Ina,
      Sorry for your diagnosis. The study I reported on discusses reduced risk and associations between diet and diseases (as most nutrition studies). That does not mean (nor have I mentioned this) that everyone following a certain diet will never get cancer, but that there is less risk.

  • Reply Mari September 16, 2015 at 11:32 pm

    just a couple days ago my husband heard this on NPR. I’m going through treatment for BC and will be following this diet and (keep olive oil as my fat of choice) more diligently now. I actually love the foods on the Med diet, but so tempted to eat junk food. Used to live in Italy and felt so good eating fresh foods, less meat, and never fast food.

    • Reply Elena Paravantes RD September 17, 2015 at 4:28 am

      Dear Mari,
      Hope you are feeling better. Yes, diet after treatment plays an important role.

  • Reply Charlie Olsson September 16, 2015 at 9:44 pm

    Thanks Folks, many of us pray this correct

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