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 Italian version of pizza might ward off cancer 

Everybody loves a slice of pizza dripping with cheese. And while it's tough to call pizza a health food, choose a simple slice with a thin crust, olive oil, tomato sauce and a little mozzarella, and it could protect against cancer.
A study, published in the International Journal of Cancer, shows further support for a Mediterranean-style diet that contains less meat and dairy than typical Americans eat. Instead, fruits and vegetables are emphasized, along with olive oil, nuts and legumes, cereals, fish and a daily glass of wine.
And yes, pizza.
"Pizza is one of the best-known Italian foods, but there is limited information on the potential influence of pizza and cancer risk," says Silvano Gallus, an epidemiologist at the Istituto di Ricerche Farmacologiche "Mario Negri," in Milan, Italy, and the study's lead researcher.
Gallus and his colleagues studied 5,500 diet surveys from Italian subjects, 598 of them cancer patients. Study participants answered 78 items about their daily diets, including three specifically about pizza. Had they eaten less than one slice a month (non-eaters), one to three slices a month (occasional eaters) or a slice or more a week (regular eaters)?
"We found that regular pizza eaters had 34 percent less risk of oral cavity and pharyngeal cancer, 59 percent less risk of esophageal cancer and 25 percent less risk of colon cancer," Gallus says.
While Gallus says pizza showed the most promise at preventing cancer, a trip to Domino's or Pizza Hut probably won't save your life.
For one thing, Gallus says, the Italian version of pizza -- and the kind advocated by the study -- is quite different from the version most Americans order on Friday nights. "In Italy, we eat pizza from the pizzeria, where it is the main dish," he says. "It is very different from fast-food pizza." Gallus says Italian pizza is 20 percent tomato sauce, 20 percent mozzarella cheese, 4 percent olive oil and less than 50 percent crust. Italian-style pizza contains fewer refined carbohydrates, which have been shown to be associated with upper digestive tract and colorectal cancers. And the cooked tomatoes are a great source of the natural chemical lycopene, which also could protect against cancer.
Plus, the monosaturated fats in the olive oil used in Italian pizza have been shown to protect against cancer. Should we eat pizza with every meal?
"Take it with a grain of salt," says Maria Yaramus, clinical coordinator of integrative medicine at the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute. "There are so many styles of pizza, so many ways of making pizza, that I think it's a bit presumptive to say it prevents cancer."


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