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Mediterranean Diet High in Fat May Reduce Breast Cancer Risk

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A study suggests that eating a high-fat Mediterranean diet may reduce the risk of breast cancer, diabetes, and heart disease.

The research was published online by the Annals of Internal Medicine on July 19, 2016. Read the abstract of “Effects on Health Outcomes of a Mediterranean Diet With No Restriction on Fat Intake: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis.”

This study was a meta-analysis. A meta-analysis combines and analyzes the results of many earlier studies. In this case, the researchers reviewed 28 studies looking at how eating a Mediterranean diet affected people’s health outcomes. The studies were done between 1990 and April 2016.

Because people have different definitions of what a Mediterranean diet is, the researchers defined it as a diet that had no restrictions on how much total fat a person could eat and also included two or more of the following components:

  • a high monounsaturated fat to saturated fat ratio, meaning a person ate much more monounsaturated fat, such as olive oil, than saturated fat, such as lard
  • eating lots of fruits and vegetables
  • eating lots of legumes (beans, peas, peanuts, lentils, and soybeans)
  • eating lots of whole grains and cereals
  • drinking moderate amounts of red wine
  • eating moderate amounts of dairy products
  • eating only a little meat or meat products and increasing the amount of fish eaten

The researchers pointed out that only a few studies compared a Mediterranean diet to all other diets. Still, the few that did suggest that a Mediterranean diet with no limits on how much fat you eat may be linked to a lower risk of heart disease, breast cancer, and Type 2 diabetes. But the studies offered no evidence that a Mediterranean diet helped people live longer overall.

Doing all that you can do to keep your breast cancer risk as low as it can be makes good sense, including:

  • eating a healthy diet that’s low in processed foods, sugar, and trans fats
  • maintaining a healthy weight
  • avoiding alcohol
  • exercising every day
  • not smoking

You can learn much more about breast cancer risk and other steps you can take to minimize your risk in the Lower Your Risk section.

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