Do you remember the Mediterranean diet? It became a diet fad in the 1990’s and pops up every now and again as a heart healthy alternative to the traditional American selection of foods. The Mediterranean diet emphasizes eating primarily plant-based foods, such as fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and nuts. Butter is replaced with healthy fats, like olive oil, and herbs and spices are used instead of salt. Red meat is limited to a few times a month and fish and poultry are eaten at least twice a week. Research has found that this type of diet is often associated with a lower risk of several health conditions, including cardiovascular disease as well as breast and colorectal cancers. And, according to a recent Dental Tribune article, oral cavity and pharyngeal cancer can now also be added to that list.
Researchers at the University of Milan analyzed data from a study conducted between the years 1997 and 2009. The study was completed in Italy and Switzerland and involved 768 oral cancer patients and 2,078 control-group participants. The research team found that the risk of oral cavity and pharyngeal cancer significantly decreased with increasing levels of the Mediterranean Diet Score, used to assess dietary patterns, like consuming olive oil, vegetables, whole-grains, and pasta with moderate consumption of meat and dairy products. The correlation was strongest in younger participants, those with a higher level of education, and ex-smokers. Maybe it’s time to reinvigorate this dietary trend. Opa!