Mediterranean Diet vs. Cancer Clinical Trials

Lower incidents of cancer and “arrest progression” of  Breast, Colon, and Prostate, as well as a slowed “Aging” process across all micro organisms, are being attributed to nutrients consumed from the Mediterranean Diet.  Organs effected by Alzheimer, Cardiovascular, Diabetes, Hypertension, and Parkinson Disease once thought to be pre-dispositioned diseases, are now completely avoided due to the higher intake of a plant based-fish/poultry diet that includes a lifestyle change with exercise. In order to understand nutrition related disease we first have to address nutritional intake for the Standard American Diet (S.A.D.) and understand what nutrients are common within the Mediterranean Diet that promote well-being.

Compare and Contrast the Standard American Diet (SAD) to the Mediterranean Diet on the following pie charts:

Standard American Diet: 2,594 cals/day

Caloric Sweeteners, Flour, and Cereal Products make up 41% of the S.A. D., Fruits and Vegetables are only 7% of the S.A.D.

Standard American Diet
Fruit/Vegetable 205 .08%
Fats 340 13%
Dairy 256 10%
Sweeteners 440 0.17%
Pork/Meat/Chxn 298 0.11%
Nuts 175 .07%
Pasta/Bread 619 23%
 Calories/day 2,594

Two critical points that Doctors raise as red flags. 1. Higher amounts of calories are  in the Standard American Diet. 2 Empty calories that promote aging is due to how the body is required to process calories that the body cannot use and have small to no amount of  vitamins, minerals, or antioxidants available.

Chemical Sweeteners and Refined Flour

  1. In contrasting the diets, note that 41% of the Standard American Diet is dedicated to the consumption of chemical sweeteners, refined flour, and cereal products.
  2. The Mediterranean Diet has no chemical sweeteners and only 17% of the dietary intake is in pasta and breads.
Calories Mediterranean Diet
Fruit/Vegetable 400 22%
Olive Oil 360 20%
Dairy 257 15%
Wine/Liquor 150 0.09%
Pork/Fish/Chxn 105 0.06%
Nuts 175 1%
Pasta/Bread 300 17%
 Calories/day 1747

Fats, Oil and Dairy products are almost an even draw in calories.

S.A.D 596 calories or 23% of dietary intake  vs Mediterranean Diet 617 or  35% of dietary intake.

  1. S.A.D. utilizes fats such as Margarine, Canola Oil, Butter, and processed cheese.
  2. Mediterranean Diet utilizes Olive Oil (3 Tbsp/day), daily fresh made or aged cheese.

So far the Standard American Diet in just two arguments has shown that 1,655 calories, or 64% of an average American’s diet is composed of sweeteners, refined flour, and processed saturated animal fat. The Mediterranean Diet demonstrates that 917 calories, or  52% of it’s nutritional intake comes from grains, refined flour, plant based oil, and freshly made or aged saturated animal fat.

S.A.D. Protein intake is 473 calories or 18% vs. Mediterranean Diet 235 calories or 13% of total intake.

  1. S.A.D. is heavily loaded with red meat some chicken / pork and low amounts of fish. It is important to note that red meat has 92 calories per ounce.
  2. Mediterranean Diet loads up on fish, poultry and some pork with red meat entering their dietary intake only once every 7-10 days. White meats and fish range from 32-37 calories per ounce are easy to digest and the amount of available oils high in omega 3 promotes healthy organs.

Protein intake is a critical part of everyone’s diet. Vitamins B12 & B16 are most prominent in meats and provide nutrition for the central nervous system.  However, balance is most important when consuming protein. Omega 3 and Protein are in all the meats, fish, and poultry, however the omega-3 is in higher amounts within certain fish (Anchovies, Sardines, Herring, Mackerel, Salmon) also easier to digest. Red meat can take 48-72 hours to digest, therefore a contributor to the aging process of the body as organs endure a work out to utilize and expel what is not needed. In many cases saturated fat is then deposited into the arteries and begin to engulf the organs.

Benefits of Fruits, Vegetables, Herbs, Spices, and Resveratrol

  1. S.A.D. shows that Americans consume only 205 calories or .08% of fruits and vegetables through out the day. (Eat the skin if not hard or bitter.)
  2. Those who follow the Mediterranean Diet are more likely to consume 400 calories or 22% of fruits and vegetables through out the day. Consuming wholesome nutrients found within natural wrappers provides the human body systems with vitamins and minerals that it needs to function daily.

    Free Radicals expedite the aging process by harming the cell membrane. Anti-oxidants neutralize the free radicals, and therefore protect all cell membranes. Eat a variety of colorful fruits, vegetables, herbs, and spices to keep your body loaded up on anti-oxidants.

Clinical trials are executing nutrition in plant extract form as a way of combatting disease and researching compounds that come from Mediterranean herbs and spices:

  • Basil / Bay Leaves:  Antibacterial, antiviral, and antioxidant properties. New evidence suggests basil can decrease carcinogenesis, and help protect against the proliferation of cervical cancer (HeLa cells).
  • Cardamom: Is loaded with anti oxidants that purge the body from free radicals that help prevent multiple forms of cancer. Found to be anti-proliferatvie, anti-invasive, anti-inflammatory, anti-angiogenic. Colon Cancer
  • Oregano: Has flavonoids and phenolic acids (antimicrobial properties) found to prevent colon cancer and restrict growth of malignant cancer cells
  • Rosemary: Aids in preventing oxidative stress which causes prostate and ovarian cancer

Studies have shown utilizing plant extracts from Mediterranean Spices that are linked to reduced incidents of cancer or arrested progression of cancer are:

  • Cinnamon / Cloves: Increased levels of iron and calcium are components that may be attributes of the anti carcinogenic, pro-apoptotic, anti-proliferative properties. Cervical Cancer, Colon Cancer.
  • Ginger: Has shown that it inhibits cancer cell growth in prostate cancer patients.
  • Sumac: Has both anti-oxidants and anti-microbial properties, preventing the on set of cancer.
  • Turmeric:  Contains anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, and anti-carcinogenic activities and thus has a potential against various malignant diseases, diabetes, allergies, arthritis, Alzheimer’s disease, Breast Cancer, Colon Cancer and other chronic illnesses.  Plant based resveratrol is known to slow the aging process and is tested to see which cancers that it can prevent, arrest, and cure.  “Resveratrol (1 mg/kg orally) reduced the number and size of the esophageal tumors in rats treated with a carcinogen; and in several studies, small doses (0.02–8 mg/kg) of resveratrol, given prophylactically, reduced or prevented the development of intestinal and colon tumors in rats given different carcinogens. Similarly, topical application of resveratrol in mice, both before and after the UVB exposure, inhibited the skin damage and decreased skin cancer incidence.”

Add resveratrol to your meals, finding it within a variety of sources: purple grapes, cranberries, blueberries, peanuts, pomegranate and Italian Red Wine.

Making small dietary changes will promote overall health and reduce incidence of nutrition related disease and cancers, therefore leading to days of improved strength, stamina, and endurance.

By: Kimberly Crocker-Scardicchio