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Mediterranean Diet Proves to Be Lifesaving for Cancer Survivors

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A new Italian study now finds that the Mediterranean diet, already known for its numerous health benefits, significantly reduces the risk of death among cancer survivors. Conducted by the Joint Research Platform Umberto Veronesi Foundation and the Department of Epidemiology and Prevention of the IRCCS Neuromed of Pozzilli, in collaboration with University LUM “Giuseppe Degennaro”, this research got published, underlining how the diet could turn out to be a powerful ally even after a diagnosis of cancer.

Mediterranean Diet Reduces Mortality in Cancer Survivors

Within the setting of the UMBERTO Project, the study followed 800 adults from Italy who had a diagnosis of cancer and were enrolled in the Moli-Sani Study from 2005 to 2010. Their dietary pattern from the previous year before enrolment was tracked during follow-up of over 13 years.

Benefits of Mediterranean Diet Even After Diagnosis of Cancer

“The Mediterranean Diet’s beneficial role in preventing some cancers is well known,” Marialaura Bonaccio explained, first author and co-principal investigator at IRCCS Neuromed, Department of Epidemiology and Prevention. She mentioned, however, that possible benefits among people already diagnosed with cancer were less explored.

With the population of cancer survivors growing, mainly because of the development of more targeted and curative treatments, there is an increasing need to understand the role of dietary modulation in survival. The researchers from Italy investigated this by examining the association between the Mediterranean diet and mortality among cancer survivors.

The results were striking. Those cancer survivors who adhered most closely to the Mediterranean diet had a 32% lower risk of death compared with people who did not follow the Mediterranean diet. Reductions in cardiovascular mortality were even more dramatic, with a decrease of 60%.

Common Molecular Processes

According to Maria Benedetta Donati, Principal Investigator of the Joint Platform, one of the ideas emerging from this research is that different chronic diseases—for example, cancer and heart disease, are sustained by similar molecular processes. This idea, previously defined by the term ‘common soil’ in the literature, gives a concept of common origin for many diseases.

Foods High in Antioxidants

According to Chiara Tonelli, the President of the Umberto Veronesi Foundation’s Scientific Committee, first and foremost, fruits, vegetables, and olive oil are core parts of the Mediterranean diet and, hence, this might be due to the high intake of various antioxidant compounds which may account for the observed mortality reduction for both cancer and cardiovascular disease.

The advantages of the Mediterranean diet are already being researched as part of the UMBERTO project, with special attention to vulnerable populations like cancer survivors. As the researchers commented, the study demonstrates that a Mediterranean diet is not only about prevention; it actually can include and support the life of people who have struggled with cancer.

More for You:

  • Mediterranean Diet: A Lifesaver for Cancer Survivors.
  • Mediterranean Diet Can Lower Risk of Death in Cancer Survivors: Researchers

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