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Mediterranean Diet May Help Prevent Second Deadliest Cancer

The Mediterranean diet has previously been linked to protecting against certain cancers, and a large study recently found strong evidence that the diet may be especially effective at protecting us from stomach cancer. Stomach cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer death worldwide.

The study was led by researchers from the Catalan institute for Oncology in Barcelona and published in the January 2009 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

The Mediterranean diet is typical of people who live in the European countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea. The diet is rich in vegetables, legumes, fruits, whole grains and healthy oils.

For the recent study, the researchers analyzed data from the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition Study. The study included nearly 500,000 participants aged 35 to 70 years from 10 separate European countries.

All of the participants were given a score based on how close their eating habits were to the traditional Mediterranean diet. During an average of 9 years of follow-up, 449 of the participants developed stomach cancer.

The researchers found that every 1-point increase in the participant's Mediterranean diet score was associated with a 5% reduction in stomach cancer risk. When they compared the participants with the highest Mediterranean score to those with the lowest, they found that people with the highest scores had a 33% reduction in stomach cancer risk.

The researchers noted that identifying dietary interventions that can reduce the risk of stomach cancer is extremely important because only 23% of people diagnosed with the disease live 5 years after diagnosis.

People that follow the Mediterranean diet tend to have improved heart health, lower rates of obesity and a decreased risk of overall mortality.

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