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Table of Contents
Vol. 20, No. 2, 2011
Issue release date: January 2011
Section title: Review
Open Access Gateway
Med Princ Pract 2011;20:103–111
(DOI:10.1159/000321197)

The Protective Effect of the Mediterranean Diet: Focus on Cancer and Cardiovascular Risk

Pauwels E.K.J.
University of Pisa Medical School, Pisa, Italy
email Corresponding Author

Abstract

The lower occurrence of cancer and cardiovascular disease in the population around the Mediterranean basin has been linked to the dietary habits of the region. Indeed, this so-called Mediterranean diet is essentially different from the diets consumed in Western and Northern European countries and is rich in nuts, fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole-wheat bread, fish, and olive oil, with moderate amounts of red wine, which is mainly consumed during meals. Although a variety of cultural and religious traditions exist among the peoples of the Mediterranean area, olive oil, fish, and red wine hold a traditional and central position in the culinary routines of the region. The components of the diet contain an ample source of molecules with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory actions, among which omega-3 fatty acids, oleic acid, and phenolic compounds hold a prominent place. This review will summarize the results of important epidemiological studies that have investigated the protective effect of fish and olive oil on the risk of breast, prostate, and colorectal cancer and of wine on the risk of cardiovascular disease. The present review also aims to elucidate the various mechanisms by which various dietary components exhibit their beneficial action. In this respect, emphasis will be placed on the properties of omega-3 fatty acids from fish, oleic acid from olive oil, and phenolic compounds from olive oil and red wine.

© 2011 S. Karger AG, Basel


  

Key Words

  • Mediterranean diet
  • Anti-inflammatory agent
  • Antioxidant
  • Omega-3
  • Olive oil
  • Red wine
  • Cancer
  • Cardiovascular disease

References

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  2. Keys A, Menotti A, Karvonen MJ, Aravanis C, Blackburn H, Buzina R, Djordjevic BS, Dontas AS, Fidanza F, Keys MH, et al: The diet and 15-year death rate in the Seven Countries Study. Am J Epidemiol 1986;124:903–915.
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    External Resources

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Author Contacts

Prof. Dr. Ernest K.J. Pauwels
Via di San Gennaro 79 B
IT–55010 Cappanori (Italy)
Tel. +39 058 397 8080
E-Mail ernestpauwels@gmail.com

  

Article Information

Received: March 10, 2010
Accepted: June 6, 2010
Published online: January 20, 2011
Number of Print Pages : 9
Number of Figures : 0, Number of Tables : 0, Number of References : 79

  

Publication Details

Medical Principles and Practice (International Journal of the Kuwait University Health Sciences Centre)

Vol. 20, No. 2, Year 2011 (Cover Date: January 2011)

Journal Editor: Owunwanne A. (Kuwait)
ISSN: 1011-7571 (Print), eISSN: 1423-0151 (Online)

For additional information: http://www.karger.com/MPP


Open Access License / Drug Dosage / Disclaimer

Open Access License: This is an Open Access article licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported license (CC BY-NC) (www.karger.com/OA-license), applicable to the online version of the article only. Distribution permitted for non-commercial purposes only.
Drug Dosage: The authors and the publisher have exerted every effort to ensure that drug selection and dosage set forth in this text are in accord with current recommendations and practice at the time of publication. However, in view of ongoing research, changes in goverment regulations, and the constant flow of information relating to drug therapy and drug reactions, the reader is urged to check the package insert for each drug for any changes in indications and dosage and for added warnings and precautions. This is particularly important when the recommended agent is a new and/or infrequently employed drug.
Disclaimer: The statements, opinions and data contained in this publication are solely those of the individual authors and contributors and not of the publishers and the editor(s). The appearance of advertisements or/and product references in the publication is not a warranty, endorsement, or approval of the products or services advertised or of their effectiveness, quality or safety. The publisher and the editor(s) disclaim responsibility for any injury to persons or property resulting from any ideas, methods, instructions or products referred to in the content or advertisements.

Abstract

The lower occurrence of cancer and cardiovascular disease in the population around the Mediterranean basin has been linked to the dietary habits of the region. Indeed, this so-called Mediterranean diet is essentially different from the diets consumed in Western and Northern European countries and is rich in nuts, fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole-wheat bread, fish, and olive oil, with moderate amounts of red wine, which is mainly consumed during meals. Although a variety of cultural and religious traditions exist among the peoples of the Mediterranean area, olive oil, fish, and red wine hold a traditional and central position in the culinary routines of the region. The components of the diet contain an ample source of molecules with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory actions, among which omega-3 fatty acids, oleic acid, and phenolic compounds hold a prominent place. This review will summarize the results of important epidemiological studies that have investigated the protective effect of fish and olive oil on the risk of breast, prostate, and colorectal cancer and of wine on the risk of cardiovascular disease. The present review also aims to elucidate the various mechanisms by which various dietary components exhibit their beneficial action. In this respect, emphasis will be placed on the properties of omega-3 fatty acids from fish, oleic acid from olive oil, and phenolic compounds from olive oil and red wine.

© 2011 S. Karger AG, Basel


  

Author Contacts

Prof. Dr. Ernest K.J. Pauwels
Via di San Gennaro 79 B
IT–55010 Cappanori (Italy)
Tel. +39 058 397 8080
E-Mail ernestpauwels@gmail.com

  

Article Information

Received: March 10, 2010
Accepted: June 6, 2010
Published online: January 20, 2011
Number of Print Pages : 9
Number of Figures : 0, Number of Tables : 0, Number of References : 79

  

Publication Details

Medical Principles and Practice (International Journal of the Kuwait University Health Sciences Centre)

Vol. 20, No. 2, Year 2011 (Cover Date: January 2011)

Journal Editor: Owunwanne A. (Kuwait)
ISSN: 1011-7571 (Print), eISSN: 1423-0151 (Online)

For additional information: http://www.karger.com/MPP


Article / Publication Details

First-Page Preview
Abstract of Review

Received: 3/10/2010
Accepted: 6/6/2010
Published online: 1/20/2011
Issue release date: January 2011

Number of Print Pages: 9
Number of Figures: 0
Number of Tables: 0

ISSN: 1011-7571 (Print)
eISSN: 1423-0151 (Online)

For additional information: http://www.karger.com/MPP


Open Access License / Drug Dosage

Open Access License: This is an Open Access article licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported license (CC BY-NC) (www.karger.com/OA-license), applicable to the online version of the article only. Distribution permitted for non-commercial purposes only.
Drug Dosage: The authors and the publisher have exerted every effort to ensure that drug selection and dosage set forth in this text are in accord with current recommendations and practice at the time of publication. However, in view of ongoing research, changes in goverment regulations, and the constant flow of information relating to drug therapy and drug reactions, the reader is urged to check the package insert for each drug for any changes in indications and dosage and for added warnings and precautions. This is particularly important when the recommended agent is a new and/or infrequently employed drug.
Disclaimer: The statements, opinions and data contained in this publication are solely those of the individual authors and contributors and not of the publishers and the editor(s). The appearance of advertisements or/and product references in the publication is not a warranty, endorsement, or approval of the products or services advertised or of their effectiveness, quality or safety. The publisher and the editor(s) disclaim responsibility for any injury to persons or property resulting from any ideas, methods, instructions or products referred to in the content or advertisements.

References

  1. Benetou V, Trichopoulou A, Orfanos P, Naska A, Lagiou P, Boffetta P, Trichopoulos D, Greek EPIC cohort: Conformity to traditional Mediterranean diet and cancer incidence: the Greek EPIC cohort. Br J Cancer 2008;99:191–195.
  2. Keys A, Menotti A, Karvonen MJ, Aravanis C, Blackburn H, Buzina R, Djordjevic BS, Dontas AS, Fidanza F, Keys MH, et al: The diet and 15-year death rate in the Seven Countries Study. Am J Epidemiol 1986;124:903–915.
  3. Cunnane SC: Problems with essential fatty acids: time for a new paradigm? Prog Lipid Res 2003;42:544–568.
  4. Serhan CN: Systems approach to inflammation resolution: identification of novel anti-inflammatory and pro-resolving mediators. J Thromb Haemost 2009;7(suppl 1):44–48.
  5. Allred CD, Talbert DR, Southard RC, Wang X, Kilgore MW: PPARgamma1 as a molecular target of eicosapentaenoic acid in human colon cancer (HT-29) cells. J Nutr 2008;138:250–256.
  6. Muralidhar B, Carpenter KL, Müller K, Skepper JN, Arends MJ: Potency of arachidonic acid in polyunsaturated fatty acid-induced death of human monocyte-macrophages: implications for atherosclerosis. Prostaglandins Leukot Essent Fatty Acids 2004;71:251–262.
  7. Zhao G, Etherton TD, Martin KR, Vanden Heuvel JP, Gillies PJ, West SG, Kris-Etherton PM: Anti-inflammatory effects of polyunsaturated fatty acids in THP-1 cells. Biochem Biophys Res Commun 2005;336:909–917.
  8. Hering J, Garrean S, Dekoj TR, Razzak A, Saied A, Trevino J, Babcock TA, Espat NJ: Inhibition of proliferation by omega-3 fatty acids in chemoresistant pancreatic cancer cells. Ann Surg Oncol 2007;14:3620–3628.
  9. Schley PD, Brindley DN, Field CJ: (n-3) PUFA alter raft lipid composition and decrease epidermal growth factor receptor levels in lipid rafts of human breast cancer cells. J Nutr 2007;137:548–553.
  10. Yao HT, Chang YW, Lan SJ, Chen CT, Hsu JT, Yeh TK: The inhibitory effect of polyunsaturated fatty acids on human CYP enzymes. Life Sci 2006;79:2432–2440.
  11. Yaqoob P, Calder PC: Fatty acids and immune function: new insights into mechanisms. Br J Nutr 2007;98(suppl 1):S41–S45.

    External Resources

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