The Mediterranean Diet protects against stomach cancer according to a new study. The Catalan Institute for Oncology located in Barcelona recently published a study in the “American Journal of Clinical Nutrition” concluding that people consuming the Mediterranean or a diet that closely resembles it tend to have a lower incidence of stomach cancer.
The study was an evaluation of the European Prospective
Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) that followed the diets of over 485,000 Europeans and included people from ten countries. They evaluated each person’s diet as to how closely it aligned with the Mediterranean diet rich in fruits, legumes, vegetables and fish. At the other end of the spectrum was the Western diet that contained high amounts of dairy and meat products.
Tracking the participants was a matter of scoring them on an eighteen point system. The more closely their diet resembled the Mediterranean diet, the higher their points on the scale. Dr. Carlos Gonzalez and colleagues then looked for a correlation between diet and stomach cancer, a deadly form of cancer that takes the life within five years of more than ¾ of the people who develop it. What they found was eye opening.
The people that had diets that matched the Mediterranean diet the closest had a 33 percent less chance of developing stomach cancer than the ones whose diet were least like it. In fact, they found that for every point that the participant moved up the scale matching the Mediterranean diet, their chances of developing stomach cancer lowered by a significant 5 percent.
This is not the first study that showed a high correlation between the Mediterranean diet and good health. Other studies showed people that consumed the Mediterranean diet or a diet similar to it had other benefits besides the reduction of stomach cancer. Often they had lower incidence of diabetes, less inflammation, lower incidence of obesity and lower risk for heart disease.
Other studies that showed a correlation between the consumption of vegetables, similar to the Mediterranean diet found that specific vegetables help prevent not just stomach cancer but also gastritis and other conditions such as ulcers. In one study published in “Cancer Prevention Research” in 2009, the researchers found that a substance in broccoli named isothiocyanate sulforaphane does just that. It increases the activity of important enzymes that help prevent oxidative damage and guards it from both cancer and disease.
Another benefit of broccoli is its indole-3-carbinols. Brussels sprouts, cabbage, bok choy and cabbage also contain these powerful anti-cancer substances. These compounds found in the vegetables help reduce acidity in the body, detoxify it and prevents cancer cells from growing into tumors or kills the individual cells.
Since these vegetables and other anti-cancer foods such as garlic, onions, turmeric, ginger, pomegranates and berries have cancer-fighting properties; it makes sense that a diet high in these fruits and vegetables would aid the body in fighting the disease. Many scientists agree that this is probably why the Mediterranean Diet protects against stomach cancer.