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Open Access Highly Accessed Opinion

Do statins increase and Mediterranean diet decrease the risk of breast cancer?

Michel de Lorgeril* and Patricia Salen

Author Affiliations

Laboratoire TIMC-IMAG, CNRS UMR 5525, PRETA Cœur & Nutrition, and Faculté de Médecine, Université Joseph Fourier, Grenoble, France

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BMC Medicine 2014, 12:94  doi:10.1186/1741-7015-12-94

Published: 5 June 2014

Abstract

Background

Physical exercise and healthy dietary habits are recommended to prevent breast cancer.

Discussion

Increased intake of omega-3 fatty acids associated with decreased omega-6 - resulting in higher omega-3 to omega-6 ratio compared with Western-type diet - is inversely associated with breast cancer risk. The modernized Mediterranean diet with high omega-3 to omega-6 ratio, high fiber and polyphenol intake, and consumption of low-glycemic index foods reduces overall cancer risk and specifically breast cancer risk. It has been suggested that consuming no more than one alcoholic drink per day, preferably wine, is preferable. Eliminating environmental contaminants, including endocrine disruptors, and favoring organic foods to increase polyphenol intake and the omega-3 to omega-6 ratios were also shown to be beneficial. Cholesterol-lowering statins may decrease antitumor defenses; are toxic for the mitochondria; decrease the omega-3 to omega-6 ratio; increase body mass index, insulin resistance and diabetic risk; and have been associated with an increased breast cancer risk.

Summary

Therefore, as well as making lifestyle changes to decrease breast cancer risk, we argue that physicians should carefully consider (and often avoid) therapies that may increase breast cancer or diabetes risk in high-risk women and women who wish to decrease their breast cancer risk.

Keywords:
Cholesterol; Diabetes; Endocrine disruptors; Insulin resistance; Organic foods; Polyphenols; Statins