Hippocrates was a Greek physician who lived from 460 to 370 B.C. and is considered one of the most outstanding figures in the history of medicine. The quote “Let Food be Thy Medicine, and Medicine be Thy Food” is attributed to him, which means that what Hippocrates knew to be true over 2,400 years ago, was just show to be true in a large population-based study.
The study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, assessed over 20,000 adults living in Greece on adherence to a Mediterranean diet and total mortality as well as cancer-related mortality. Over a 44 month period, consistent adherence to a Mediterranean diet was associated with a 24% decreased risk of dying from cancer. Similar data has been published over the years that links a diet high in plant-based foods and healthy oils to a lower risk of developing cancer in general. Interestingly, people who move from countries with lower cancer risk (such and India with a low risk of colorectal cancer) often acquire a higher risk of cancer when moving to the United States and adopting a typical fat-rich and vegetable-poor Western diet.
In summary, diet appears to play an important role in the development of many cancers. Adoption of a diet similar to those residing in the Mediterranean seems to lower cancer risk based on published data. Also, the wisdom of the ancient Greeks remains relevant to us today!