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  • 1 Istituto di Ricerche Farmacologiche “Mario Negri” via Eritrea, 62 20157 Milano Italy
  • 2 Università di Milano Istituto di Statistica Medica e Biometria Milano Italy
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Various aspects of the Mediterranean diet were analyzed in a series of studies conducted in Northern Italy on over 20,000 cases of several major cancers and 18,000 controls. For most digestive tract cancers, the risk decreased with increasing vegetable and fruit consumption, with relative risks between 0.3 and 0.7 for the highest level of intake, and the population attributable risks for low intake of vegetables and fruit ranged between 15 and 40%. Less strong inverse relations were observed for other (epithelial) cancers, too. A number of micronutrients contained in vegetables and fruit showed an inverse relation with cancer risk. In particular, flavones, flavonols and resveratrol were inversely related to breast cancer risk. Olive oil, which is the main common denominator of the Mediterranean diet, has also been inversely related to cancers of the colorectum and breast, and mainly of the upper digestive and respiratory tract.

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