is associated with increased all-cause mortality, diabetes, and certain types of cancer (including pancreatic and colorectal).
What is not exactly known is what the effect of poor adherence to the Mediterranean diet in the form of excess meat intake is on breast cancer risk in women.
A new study published in the journal Meat Science aimed to add a little more clarity to this issue by studying the effect of meat consumption on breast cancer in Greek women.
250 newly-diagnosed women with breast cancer (average age 56+/-12 years) were recruited for this study, as well as 250 age-matched controls without breast cancer.
Face-to-face interviews were conducted to obtain information regarding: socio-demographics, clinical, lifestyle, and dietary habits. For meat consumption habits, data for red, white, processed, and grilled meat were collected. Dietary habits were assigned scores based adherence to the Mediterranean diet using the MedDietScore.
Prostate cancer in men is a world-wide problem and has many risk factors from environmental to genetic and finally to lifestyle. Specifically, some risk factors for prostate cancer include: old age,
ethnicity, family history/genetics, lifestyle factors, and diet.
Some studies have observed dietary fats may influence prostate cancer risk, particularly related to the Western-style diet and the omega-6 and animals fats are prevalent compared with the so-called “good” fats related to the Mediterranean diet (olive oil fats, omega-3, etc). Specifically, it is dietary fats that have been implicated in DNA damage related to cancer risk.
A new study published in the journal Nutrients aimed to evaluate dietary fat intake through diets like the Mediterranean diet and the Western diet, and compare consumption of these diets to inflammation markers and DNA damage in men with prostate cancer.
20 men with prostate cancer (Gleason scores between 6 and 7) were recruited for this study.
Blood samples were collected at the beginning of the study, as well as 3 months later. Fatty acid profiles and DNA damage was evaluated from blood samples.
Dietary information prior to the beginning of the study was collected via questionnaire.
During the study, all participants were given a strict diet based on the Mediterranean diet, and were provided with all meals throughout the 3 month experiment.
Light to moderate exercise was encouraged, and participants were required to not each or drink anything that was not allowed based on experimental protocol.
Adherence to the experimental Mediterranean-style diet was determined via questionnaire.
DNA damage levels were correlated with dietary fat sources:
DNA damage was negatively correlated with adherence to the experimental Mediterranean-style diet, whole blood monounsaturated fatty acids, and oleic acid.
DNA damage was positively correlated with consumption of dairy products, red meat, and whole blood omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids.
The results of this study indicate that dietary fats associated with a Western-style diet are correlated with greater DNA damage in men
with prostate cancer. On the other hand, those men with prostate cancer adhering strictly to a Mediterranean-style diet had lowest levels of DNA damage.
Problems with this study: the sample size was incredibly small. With only 20 participants, the results of this study are only preliminary and would need a much larger sample size to be more confident in the results.
Also, there were NO controls in this study. Basic scientific experimental design dictates that there should always be a control (preferably more than one!), or else the results are virtually meaningless.
While the results of this study are interesting and indicate that the adherence to the Mediterranean diet is correlated with less DNA damage in men with prostate cancer, these results should be taken with a grain of salt due to the omission of a control group.
In addition to environmental factors, there are known genetic causes for breast cancer risk in women. Specifically, single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) found on certain genes has been shown to be associated with breast cancer risk.
Some research has shown that folate in the diet may interact with specific SNPs on genes associated with breast cancer risk. Typical Mediterranean diet patterns are relatively high in folate, leading to past research showing possible relationships between Mediterranean diet adherence and reduced breast cancer risk in women.
Specific genes on which SNPS have been shown to interact with dietary folates are the MTHFR (rs180133 and rs1801131) and the MTR (rs1805087) genes.
A new study published in the journal Genes & Nutrition aimed to further investigate whether or not specific SNPs on the aforementioned genes affect the observed benefit of eating a Mediterranean diet on breast cancer risk. In other words, do sequence changes on these genes reduce or increase breast cancer risk in women adhering to a Mediterranean diet?
1,109 women with breast cancer from Cyprus were recruited for this study. Dietary information was collected via questionnaires.
All participants were genotyped for the MTHFR and MTR genes, which would basically provide the researchers with the specific DNA sequence and therefore specific SNP sequences of those genes.
High adherence to the Mediterranean diet:
Decreased breast cancer risk in women who had increasing numbers of variants of rs180133 SNPs on the MTHFR gene.
Decreased breast cancer risk in women who had at least one variant of rs1805087 SNP on the MTR gene.
Decreased breast cancer risk in women who had the rs1801131 SNP on the MTHFR gene.
The results of this study indicate that Cyprus women with certain genotypes (gene sequences) had a reduced risk of breast cancer if they adhered strictly to the Mediterranean diet.
What may be happening here is that the folate obtained from the Mediterranean diet interacts better with certain genotypes than others, resulting in a reduced risk of breast cancer.
More research needs to be done to get a better understanding of the mechanisms behind these relationships, but the results seem to indicate that women with certain genes seem to be better protected from breast cancer if they eat a Mediterranean diet than women who eat a diet with lower folate levels.
Systemic inflammation is known to be associated with several health problems and diseases, including various types of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and cancers. It is also known that a poor diet is also linked to these same diseases and more, raising the question of
whether diet choice is associated with systemic inflammation, or if these markers for certain diseases are mutually exclusive.
A new research study from Lund University in Sweden focused on a group of 667 older adults between the ages of 63 and 68, to determine if diet quality was associated with the clinical signs of systemic inflammation.
At baseline, the participants answered questions related to socio-demographics. Additionally, height, weight, BMI, hip and waist circumferences, blood pressure, various blood sample measurements, and diet quality indices were collected and analyzed.