Is there an association between dietary patterns and reduced breast cancer risk?

In a recent study published in Nutrients magazine, researchers compared the impacts of Western and Mediterranean diets on breast cancer risk.

Study: The risk of breast cancer between Western and Mediterranean dietary patterns.  Image credit: sabrinimada/Shutterstock.comStudy: The risk of breast cancer between Western and Mediterranean dietary patterns. Image credit: sabrinimada/


Breast cancer is a significant global health problem, as it is the most prevalent form of cancer, the leading cause of cancer mortality among women, and has the highest number of reported cases of all cancers.

Studies are still identifying specific variables that contribute to the development of breast cancer and new therapies and prevention techniques. Various demographic, genetic, reproductive, environmental and lifestyle factors are associated with breast cancer.

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In the present study, the researchers summarized the active compounds from Western and Mediterranean diets believed to be vital in breast cancer prevention.

To ensure the validity of this review, the team performed a systematic literature search of PubMed using the terms ‘breast cancer’ and ‘diet pattern’ to identify the most prevalent dietary trends worldwide. Inclusion criteria for this review included English-language studies and peer-reviewed articles published after 2017.

Secondary research used ‘breast cancer’ and particular constituents in identified dietary trends to study the association between breast cancer risk and particular dietary elements.

Inclusion criteria for secondary research were limited to English-language peer-reviewed articles, but were not time-limited.


The Western diet involves a high intake of unhealthy lipids, including abundant saturated and trans fats, omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA), and omega-3 PUFA deficiency.

An unbalanced omega-6/omega-3 ratio of 20:1 is of particular concern because it is known to induce metabolic complications, particularly inflammatory processes.

A high-fat diet has been shown to cause chronic inflammation, obesity, gut microbiota dysbiosis, and cancer. Another study found that the adjusted odds ratio for breast cancer in women consuming more than seven servings of whole grains per week was 0.49.

The European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) conducted a study to determine the association between trans fat intake and breast cancer risk. In the multivariate-adjusted model, results indicated that higher ingestion of industrial trans fats was associated with an elevated risk of breast cancer.

Overall, the Western diet can be high in calories and low in nutrients, leading to higher calorie consumption than the body requires, resulting in weight gain and an increased risk of obesity. Being obese or overweight is a recognized risk factor for breast cancer.

The incidence of breast cancer has decreased thanks to the protective effect of the Mediterranean diet against the development of the disease.

A recent case-control study suggests that premenopausal and postmenopausal women with a diet rich in vegetables, fruits, fish and olive oil may have a reduced risk of developing breast cancer.

This positive result is attributed to the regular intake of food-derived flavonoids, fiber and antioxidants, which are believed to reduce estrogen levels, increase sex hormone proportions, neutralize free radicals, protect deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) damage and reduce oxidative stress. .

Phytochemicals in plant-based diets have demonstrated health benefits, including reducing the risk of breast cancer. Several epidemiological studies indicate that eating fruits and vegetables, especially cruciferous vegetables, can reduce the risk of several types of cancer, such as breast cancer. According to studies, fucoxanthin has anti-inflammatory properties in cancer prevention and therapy.

According to one study, Western dietary trends were associated with an increased risk of invasive lobular (ILC) and ductal carcinoma (IDC). Furthermore, the Western diet was associated with an elevated risk of ILC and IDC.

Conversely, the Mediterranean diet has been linked to a reduced incidence of IDC and ILC. In addition, one study found a significant positive association between human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2)+ and estrogen/progesterone (ER/PR)+ breast cancer and Western dietary trends.

A significant difference did not distinguish other dietary trends and breast cancer subtypes.


The study results showed that bioactive compounds found in fruits, whole grains, legumes and vegetables regulate several bodily functions and, in some cases, may work in tandem with the gut microbiome to produce health benefits.

A dietary trend that incorporates these nutrient-dense foods, such as the Mediterranean diet, is ideal for optimal health, although no single food can treat or prevent the disorder.

However, a balanced diet and lifestyle, including regular physical activity and moderate alcohol consumption, are also essential for maintaining health.

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