Home Medizin Die Wirksamkeit der Mittelmeerdiät auf die Gesundheitsergebnisse bei krebskranken Erwachsenen

Die Wirksamkeit der Mittelmeerdiät auf die Gesundheitsergebnisse bei krebskranken Erwachsenen

von NFI Redaktion

During cancer treatment, excessive weight gain, often due to fat accumulation, is common. The Mediterranean Diet (MED Diet) can support these patients during this time. A new study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition investigated the safety and benefits of this diet in cancer patients as well as its feasibility in this population.

Study: Nutrition Interventions in Mediterranean Style in Adults with Cancer: A Systematic Review of Methodological Approaches, Feasibility, and Preliminary Effectiveness. Image Credit: Marian Weyo/Shutterstock.com

Study: Nutrition Interventions in Mediterranean Style in Adults with Cancer: A Systematic Review of Methodological Approaches, Feasibility, and Preliminary Effectiveness. Image Credit: Marian Weyo/Shutterstock.com


Currently, nearly 20 million people have been diagnosed with cancer, making it the most common cause of illness and death globally. Cancer treatment is associated with numerous side effects that lead to accelerated aging, chronic metabolic disorders, and decreased quality of life.

These side effects include early menopause, cognitive impairments, cardiomyopathy with persistent fatigue, and weight loss. Such long-term negative effects could be mitigated through diet and exercise. However, there is limited evidence on the appropriate dietary pattern for addressing these issues that arise during or after cancer treatment.

About the Mediterranean Diet

The MED Diet has long been considered one of the healthiest eating habits. Adherence to this diet has been associated with a reduced risk of many chronic diseases, including type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular damage.

This dietary pattern is characterized by high consumption of fish, vegetables, legumes, nuts, fruits, and extra virgin olive oil, moderate consumption of dairy products and red wine with limited added sugar, processed foods, and red meat. The antioxidant and anti-inflammatory profile of this diet is believed to mediate its positive effects on heart and metabolic health.

Prior findings suggest that the likelihood of dying from prostate cancer is 22% and 13% lower in individuals adhering to a MED Diet. This is significant as the hormone therapy typically used for these types of cancers negatively affects metabolism and body composition and increases the risk of cardiovascular disease.

It has been shown that this patient group benefits from a dietary change combined with physical activity, reducing body fat and weight. However, there is currently limited systematic evidence supporting the recommendation of a MED Diet for cancer patients. This was the motivation for the current study.

About the Study

A systematic review was conducted, including 15 articles that focused on MED Diet intervention in this patient group. Ten of these studies involved breast cancer patients, all women, with the remaining studies focusing on prostate cancer, acute myeloid leukemia, and lung cancer.

Five studies involved patients actively undergoing treatment, while five were post-treatment studies. Three studies included patients who had already been treated or were undergoing treatment, with one beginning within five years of diagnosis.

The main goal in most studies was weight loss, but some aimed to reduce fatigue, lower inflammatory mediators, improve diet, or maintain a stable weight. Different levels of energy restriction were applied for individuals with obesity or overweight. Other strategies included reducing portion sizes or consuming more satiating foods.

What Changes Were Observed?

Most participants closely adhered to the MED Diet compared to the control group, with a completion rate of 64% to 96%. Six studies reported a decrease in body weight of MED Diet participants compared to the control group. In seven studies, the Body Mass Index (BMI) decreased in the intervention group compared to the control group.

A similar positive change was reported in body fat mass, although three of them also reported a loss of muscle mass.

Several metabolic biomarkers and inflammation markers were positively affected, including reduced glucose markers, reduced cardiovascular markers including triglycerides and total cholesterol, increased High-Density Lipoprotein (HDL, „good cholesterol“), higher albumin levels, and reduced interleukin-8 (IL-8).

The intervention was also associated with improved quality of life, reduced fatigue, and better emotional, physical, and cognitive health.

What are the Conclusions?

The studies included in this review had very diverse study designs and MED Diet contents, making it difficult to give a definitive recommendation for achieving these favorable results. However, the safety, feasibility, and acceptance of the MED Diet as a nutritional intervention have been established.

The positive role of nutritionists in this type of intervention, providing nutritional counseling, cooking demonstrations, and tailored recipes for individual clients, is reflected in the significantly higher adherence observed in such studies.

Weight reduction is particularly well supported by this diet with energy restriction, with overweight or obese individuals under hormone therapy or post-treatment for prostate or breast cancer able to lose up to 4 kg. Evidence for the benefit of the MED Diet is currently only available for women who have completed breast cancer treatment.

Further studies need to be conducted to confirm that the MED Diet helps prevent and manage chronic diseases in this population of cancer survivors who are at high risk for such conditions. Approaches that protect or increase muscle mass but are compatible with this dietary pattern need to be explored.

Factors that may have contributed to improved cardiometabolic status and quality of life include frequent interactions with healthcare providers and other food components such as green tea, which have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects. Careful documentation of diet, adherence, and outcomes is necessary to rule out the role of such factors in preventing or treating chronic diseases in future studies.

Future longer-term RCTs should focus on reducing the risk or managing cardiovascular or metabolic diseases after cancer treatment to enhance the potential clinical impact of the MED Diet.“

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