The role of the Mediterranean diet in breast cancer survivorship

Theme Diet and physical activity

Workstream Clinical diet and physical activity

Status: This project is ongoing

This project aims to explore the relationship between following the Mediterranean diet and breast cancer survivorship. 

In cancer, survivorship focuses on the health and wellbeing of a person from the time they are diagnosed with cancer until the end of their life. The term refers to the physical, emotional, social and other effects of cancer during diagnosis, treatment and beyond. 

Our work on this project will be divided into three studies: 

  • A systematic review – we will review existing literature to explore the effect of the Mediterranean diet on breast cancer survivorship in terms of quality of life, survival and health related outcomes. 
  • Secondary data analysis – we will use data from two biobanks to further explore the potential association between following the Mediterranean diet and quality of life, survival and health-related outcomes in breast cancer survivors. We will compare the differences between these associations in UK and China. The biobanks we use will be prospective datasets collecting health information and biological samples from people in the UK and China. 
  • A Mendelian randomisation (MR) study – MR examines whether exposure factors, such as our behaviour, environment or other factors, can result in specific health outcomes. It does this by using strongly associated genetic variation (small parts of all our genetic information linked to specific health conditions or characteristics) as the proxy for Mediterranean diet adherence (exposure factor). We will use MR to further investigate the causal relationship between following the Mediterranean diet and outcomes related to breast cancer survivorship.  

We hope that evidence from this project will help us develop a dietary intervention for breast cancer survivors, as well as informing dietary guidelines for this patient group. 

This research is the PhD project being carried out by Ge (Wawa) Chen with supervision provided by Dr Sam Leary, Dr Angeliki Papadaki and Dr Tom Dudding.