Adherence to Mediterranean diet may protect against cancer, says meta-analysis

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A recent meta-analysis suggests that adherence to Mediterranean Diet (MD) could reduce the risk for several cancer types and cancer mortality. The findings were published in the journal Nutrients.

Researchers performed a meta-analysis of 83 studies identified through a literature search on PubMed and SCOPUS databases.

A random effects model showed that highest adherence score to MD had an inverse association with risk for overall cancer mortality (risk ratio [RR]cohort studies, 0.86; 95% CI, 0.81-0.91). This association was not observed among cancer survivors (RR, 0.95; 95% CI, 0.82-1.12). The inverse association between adherence to MD and cancer risk was pronounced for colorectal cancer. Increased intake of fruit (RR, 0.93; 95% CI, 0.89-0.97), vegetables (RR, 0.96; 95% CI, 0.93-0.98), whole grains (RR, 0.91; 95% CI, 0.87-0.95), and moderate alcohol intake (RR, 0.89; 95% CI, 0.85-0.93) were inversely associated with cancer risk.

According to the authors, the apparent benefits of MD may not be an effect of the overall diet, but could be primarily attributable to certain components such as higher consumption of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. The authors call for additional studies using precisely defined MD patterns to further elucidate the relationship between MD and cancer risk.