Can the Mediterranean Diet Foods fight Cancer?

February 3, 2014

We shall start this article with a quote from Hippocrates, the father of Medicine: ‘’Let the food be your medicine and medicine your food’’. What does this mean? If we take the first part of the quote, it simply means that foods can act as your medicine and help the body to fight any diseases which will attack the body. This is why we strongly believe that certain Mediterranean Diet foods can help you fight certain types of cancer and to answer the question; yes we believe that Mediterranean Diet foods can and will fight cancer!

We know that are numerous types of cancer and one may wonder whether Mediterranean foods can fight any type of cancer. Well, it just may be that they can help for all or for most but we will deal with the ones for which there is scientific evidence that they can help. It is known that Mediterranean foods can help in the fight against Breast Cancer, Skin Cancer and Prostate Cancer.

The Mediterranean Diet foods: Let us take a look at the Mediterranean foods so that we will have a clear understanding of what they are and how often they should be eaten. The Mediterranean diet foods and the frequency by which they should be consumed are presented in the Mediterranean Diet food pyramid.  The Mediterranean diet foods listed in the most frequent category are fresh vegetables, fresh fruits, legumes, olive-oil, herbs, spices and whole grain foods.  In the ‘’often category’’ we have fish and seafood , in the Moderate portions we have cheese, poultry, Eggs and yogurt, while in the less often category we have Red meat and sweets. The question one may ask is how these foods can help our body fight cancer attacks and stay healthy. Well it has been proven by various scientists and through various studies.

Mediterranean Foods fight Breast Cancer: In a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition it was found that postmenopausal women who consumed Mediterranean diet foods had less Breast cancer incidents that those who did not follow or adhere to less extend to the Mediterranean diet. Specifically it was found that there were 22% less Breast cancer incidents to postmenopausal women who have been eating fresh fruits, fresh vegetables, legumes and olive oil and who followed as closely as possible the Mediterranean Diet.  In another study it was found that Olive oil has been found to be the first in the list of foods which attacked the breast cancer tumours. Second in that list was garlic, a spice used extensively in the Mediterranean diet cuisine and especially the Italian Cuisine.

Mediterranean Diet foods fight Skin Cancer: In the Mediterranean Sea the climate is very hot during the summers and the people are exposed to the sun while working in the fields or leisurely enjoying the sun at the beach. It was found out, following several studies, that in addition to reducing the exposure to the sun, if and when possible, there are some kinds of foods which can reduce the risk of skin cancer. The studies were done among people living in countries around the Mediterranean Sea. These people consumed fresh vegetables, fruits, legumes, fresh fish and olive oil. In other words they were following the Mediterranean diet and the foods they were eating are listed in the ‘’most frequent’’ category of the Mediterranean diet pyramid. These kinds of food contained antioxidants which were fighting the free radicals in the body thus reducing the risk of cancer.  In addition to the antioxidants it was found out that some Mediterranean diet foods like fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids had antiangiogenic properties. These antiangiogenic substances which they have starve the cancer cells thus preventing them from growth. This is another way to attack Cancer!

Mediterranean Diet foods fight Prostate Cancer: Prostate Cancer is the second most frequent cancer found in men and it is the type of cancer which causes the most medical expenses, so if it could be prevented it would reduce the expenditure by families and governments. Recent research by the American Institute of Cancer Research has shown that there are certain foods containing lycopene and selenium can protect us against prostate cancer. The Mediterranean diet is abundant of foods which contain lycopene and selenium and thus protect us from prostate! Which are these foods? Watermelon is one such food, it is fruit with rich in lycopene and its nutritional properties can be read in the article, Watermelon and its Nutritional Properties. Another fruit whose juice can protect men against the prostate cancer is the Pomegranate.

A recent study done by the Ohio University, co-authored by Andrea Doseff,  has found that a compound found in plant based foods which are found in the most frequent category of the Mediterranean Diet is very efficient in ‘’killing’’ the cancer cells and thus preventing them from growing and expanding within the body.

It has to be noted that in a study performed by Trichopoulos, Trichopoulou et al, it was found that there are less Cancer incidents in the Mediterranean Basin than the Scandinavian countries, the USA and the UK. This was attributed to the foods eaten by the Mediterranean people who followed the Mediterranean Diet.

If one is sceptical about the various studies, he or she may consult the FDA and their website. The following table provides the FDA approved food label health claims which meet significant scientific agreements. This table can be found at the address shown and confirms that the three categories of foods which can fight Cancer are the categories listed in the Mediterranean diet food pyramid.

fda approved for cancer



As one may have realized there many studies and much evidence which correlate the fight against various forms of Cancer with the Mediterranean Diet and the Mediterranean foods and this correlation should neither be ignored nor underestimated. We all want to be healthy and strong and we see no reason at not to follow the Mediterranean Diet, the world’s healthiest diet. February 4th is the World Cancer day and it is a good starting point for those who want to turn into a healthy diet and a healthy way of living. The World Cancer day is an opportunity to switch to Mediterranean diet. Let the food be thy Medicine and the Medicine be thy food!

Andrea Aurelio
About the author

Andrea Aurelio adopted the Mediterranean diet and the Mediterranean way of living after evaluating a series of diets and realizing that the Mediterranean diet is a proven diet and the best way to adopt a healthy lifestyle. You can connect with him on Google+, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

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