A new study published yesterday looks at the PREDIMED trial where participants either got a low-fat diet (ouch!) or a higher-fat Mediterranean diet (with plenty of extra nuts or olive oil). After five years the risk of breast cancer was much higher in the group told to eat a low-fat diet. The higher-fat Mediterranean diet apparently protected against cancer.
Here’s the graph over the number of people who got breast cancer in the three groups. “Control” is the low-fat diet, the other two are Mediterranean diets with extra nuts or extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO).
A low-fat diet may promote cancer. Very likely the cause could be that low-fat diets are higher in carbs, increasing blood glucose and the hormone insulin, which drives cell proliferation.
This of course completely contradicts the old and failed idea that low-fat diets are supposed to be healthy. This means a lot of cognitive dissonance for people who still believe in low fat. It’s possible to see that in the discussions of a possible mechanism with magic cancer-protecting substances in olive oil.
It’s just like the French Paradox. They traditionally ate loads of fat and were very heart healthy. So people said it must be due to magic heart-protecting substances in red wine. Yeah right.
Likely this awkward antioxidant/polyphenol speculation is 99% pure BS. There’s a much simpler and more likely explanation.
Natural fat (like olive oil) is good for us – whether we’re talking about heart health, cancer or weight management. And too much refined carbs, especially white flour and pure sugar, is really bad.
Here’s earlier super-exciting findings from the PREDIMED trial:
More on Mediterranean diets: