A NEW study has confirmed that the Mediterranean diet, enjoyed by millions of people in Spain, can help to prevent a range of deadly cancers.

Known for its adherence to fresh produce, vegetables, fish and olive oil, conforming to the Mediterranean diet isn’t just a delicious dive into the gastronomic culture of the countries that border Europe’s largest sea – it can help you live longer, too.

Researchers at the Andalusian School of Public Health (EASP) have uncovered the preventative potential of the Mediterranean diet against prostate, breast, and bowel cancer.

Over 2 million people worldwide die each year from this destructive trio.

The research forms part of the European Prospective Study on Nutrition and Cancer (EPIC), organised by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) and carried out in ten European countries, including Spain.

Researchers have uncovered the preventative capability of the Mediterranean diet. Credit: Cordon Press

The project hopes to investigate the relationship between diet, nutrition, lifestyle choice, environment and the incidence of different types of cancer and chronic disease.

Three studies led by a team of researchers from the EASP have substantiated the idea that conforming to a Mediterranean diet instead of a Western diet could reduce the risk of developing potentially lethal prostate, breast and bowel cancer. 

The study showed that those who followed a Western dietary pattern had twice the risk of developing an aggressive form of prostate cancer, a 37% increased risk of breast cancer, and a 53% increased risk of bowel cancer.

Meanwhile, those following a Mediterranean diet, known for fresh, organic produce, vegetables, fish, olive oil and low levels of red meat, had a 16% lower risk of developing a bowel tumour.

The Western diet is characterised by high intakes of pre-packaged foods, refined grains, red meat, processed meat, sugary drinks, sweets, fried foods, butter, eggs and potatoes, and low intakes of fruit, vegetables, whole grains, organic animal products, fish, nuts and seeds.

The EPIC-Spain project began over 30 years ago, with data collected from over 40,000 participants.

Other studies have shown the Mediterranean diet to reduce the risk of heart disease, metabolic syndrome, diabetes and depression.

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