Mediterranean Diet Ups Survival Odds After Cancer

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Key Takeaways

  • The Mediterranean diet can help cancer survivors live longer

  • Cancer patients following the diet had a 32% lower overall risk of death

  • They also had a 60% lower risk of heart-related death

WEDNESDAY, July 3, 2024 (HealthDay News) -- The Mediterranean diet can help cancer survivors maintain their heart health and live longer, a new study says.

Cancer patients whose eating patterns stuck closely to the Mediterranean diet tended to live longer and have a reduced risk of heart-related death, researchers report in the journal JACC CardioOncology.

Specifically, cancer patients following the Mediterranean diet had a 32% lower overall risk of premature death and a 60% lower risk of heart-related death, researchers found.

The results suggest that “different chronic diseases, such as tumors and heart diseases, actually share the same molecular mechanisms,” researcher Maria Benedetta Donati of the Joint Research Platform Umberto Veronesi Foundation in Italy, said in a news release.

“This is known in the literature as 'common soil,' namely a common ground from which these two groups of disorders originate,” Donati said.

The Mediterranean diet focuses on plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, whole grains, seeds, nuts, legumes and olive oil, researchers said.

Fish and seafood should be eaten at least twice a week, and dairy and lean proteins eaten daily in smaller portions. The diet encourages minimal consumption of red meats and processed foods, and cutting out sugary beverages.

For the study, researchers tracked 800 Italian adult cancer patients for more than 13 years, following their recruitment between 2005 and 2010. The participants provided detailed information on their eating patterns as part of the study.

The number of cancer survivors is expected to increase in coming years, thanks to better treatments, researchers noted. Given that, it is crucial to understand how a good diet might improve the health and well-being of people who have beaten cancer.

“The Mediterranean Diet is mostly composed of foods such as fruit, vegetables and olive oil, that are natural sources of antioxidant compounds, which could explain the advantage observed in terms of mortality not only from cancer, but also from cardiovascular diseases, that can be reduced by diets particularly rich in these bioactive compounds,” researcher Chiara Tonelli, president of the Scientific Committee of the Umberto Veronesi Foundation, said in a news release.

More information

The American Heart Association has more about the Mediterranean diet.

SOURCE: The Institute for Research, Hospitalization and Health Care Neuromed, news release, July 2, 2024

What This Means For You

The Mediterranean diet could be of particular benefit to cancer survivors.

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