Will an adapted Mediterranean diet improve health in breast cancer survivors?

This trial will investigate whether a Mediterranean diet improves health outcomes for women who have been treated for early stage breast cancer. The trial is the first of its kind in New Zealand and is run by the Department of Nutrition at the University of Auckland.

The study investigators aim to test whether a Mediterranean diet helps those who’ve been treated for breast cancer to lose weight, reduce the symptoms of metabolic syndrome and lower inflammation levels in order to improve overall health.

The investigators say obesity, metabolic syndrome and inflammation are all associated with increased risk of cancer development, progression and recurrence.

The study will also look at changes in gene expression that may occur as a result of adopting the Mediterranean diet.

A Mediterranean diet is plant-based and typically consists of a high intake of olive oil, legumes, whole grains, fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds, fish and red wine.

The Auckland study is open to women aged 50 and over who have received treatment for breast cancer (grade 1 to 3), a body mass index (BMI) of >25 and are 3-4 months on from active treatment.

Participants can be on hormonal therapy. Exclusions include those on anti-inflammatory medication; those who drink more than 2 standard alcoholic beverages per day; those diagnosed with diabetes mellitus or those who smoke tobacco. Participants will need to provide medical information regarding their breast cancer grade. The investigators will request participants provide receptor expression and use of hormone therapy, but those who wish to keep this information private will still be eligible.

Those in the study will be randomly split into three groups. One group will be asked to follow a Mediterranean diet and will receive dietary support and information. The treatment diet will not restrict food volumes, just alter food types.

Another group will follow a New Zealand healthy eating diet with dietary support and information. The third group will continue with their usual diet.

Face-to-face group education for those in the first two groups will occur once-monthly, with a newsletter sent via email two weeks later.

The study will run for 12 months and body weight, blood tests, gene changes and quality of life status will be measured at the start of the trial and then again when the trial ends.

For more information about the study, visit the Australia New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry, or contact Dr Andrea Braakhuis at Auckland University Nutrition Clinic on nutritionclinic@auckland.ac.nz.

Please note this trial is no longer recruiting.