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Mediterranean diet may protect women against blindness and breast cancer

The health benefits of the Mediterranean diet have been endorsed by two new research projects as part of the study group PREDIMED (Prevention with Mediterranean Diet). One of the projects concluded that a Mediterranean diet supplemented with olive oil reduces the risk of diabetic patients suffering from retinopathy, the leading cause of blindness amongst these patients, by 44%, as published in the journal ‘Diabetes Care’, coordinated by the Catalan University, Rovira i Virgili (URV). In the other study, published in the journal ‘JAMA Internal Medicine’, the Mediterranean diet was associated with a 68% relative reduction in risk of breast cancer. This study was coordinated by the University of Navarra and researchers from URV also participated.

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15 September 2015 10:54 AM

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ACN / Shobha Prabhu-Naik

Barcelona (CNA).- Two new research projects which form part of the study group PREDIMED (Prevention with Mediterranean Diet) have endorsed the health benefits of the Mediterranean diet. One of them, published in the journal ‘Diabetes Care’, coordinated by the Catalan University, Rovira i Virgili (URV), concluded that the Mediterranean diet supplemented with olive oil reduces the risk of diabetic patients suffering from retinopathy, the leading cause of blindness amongst these patients, by 44%. The Mediterranean diet was associated with a 68% relative reduction in the risk of breast cancer according to the study, published in the journal ‘JAMA Internal Medicine’. This study was coordinated by the University of Navarra and researchers from URV also participated.


The possibility of chronic complications is a major concern for people with diabetes, who know that an increase in blood sugar causes blood vessels to clog up, making it difficult for blood to flow to certain organs and thus potentially causing organs to lose their functions. Microvascular complications often affect the eyes and the kidneys and result in diabetic retinopathy, eye affectations that can lead to blindness, or diabetic nephropathy which can lead to kidney failure.

Significant reduced risk of blindness for diabetics

3,614 men and women aged between 55 and 80 years voluntarily participated in the PREDIMED study which was carried out to evaluate the importance of the Mediterranean diet for cardiovascular prevention. The average profile of the participants was a person of 67 years with type 2 diabetes.

The participants were divided into three groups and were assigned at random to one of three dietary interventions: tips to follow a Mediterranean diet supplemented with extra virgin olive oil, advice to follow a Mediterranean diet supplemented with nuts and a control group to follow a low-fat diet.

During six years of observation, 74 new cases of retinopathy were identified and 168 cases of diabetic nephropathy. Regarding retinopathy significant differences between those who had and those who had not followed the Mediterranean diet were found. Thus the results of the work concluded that the Mediterranean diet supplemented with olive oil reduces the risk of retinopathy in patients with diabetes, the leading cause of blindness among patients, by 44%. Those who supplemented their diet with nuts had an insignificant reduction in risk (37%) compared to those who had eaten a low-fat diet.

Less chance of breast cancer

A similar pattern was followed by another study, in which researchers analysed the effects of two interventions with a Mediterranean diet supplemented with 30 grams of virgin olive oil or 30 grams of a mixture of walnuts, hazelnuts and almonds per day, and compared them to a group of women who were advised to follow a low-fat diet.

From 2003 to 2009, 4,282 women were recruited aged between 60 and 80 years, with an average age of 67, with a high risk of cardiovascular disease. 1,476 women were assigned at random to a Mediterranean diet supplemented with extra virgin olive oil, 1,285 women to a Mediterranean diet supplemented with nuts and a control group of 1,391 women was given tips to reduce a dietary intake of fat. During the period, which lasted almost five years, the authors identified 35 new cases of breast cancer.

The authors therefore concluded that the women who followed a Mediterranean diet supplemented with olive oil showed a 68% lesser risk of getting malignant breast cancer than those assigned to the control group diet. Women who followed a Mediterranean diet supplemented with nuts showed no significant reduction in risk compared to women in the control group.

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  • Olive oil is one of the basis of the Mediterranean Diet

  • Olive oil is one of the basis of the Mediterranean Diet