There has been a lot of talk regarding pizza and its link to cancer prevention, specifically esophageal cancer prevention. While this new finding is quite exciting to pizza fans, it needs to be carefully explained, as all pizzas are not created equal when it comes to esophageal cancer prevention.
Silvano Gallus, PhD is an epidemiologist at the Instituto di Ricerche Farmacologiche “Mario Negri,” in Milan, Italy and lead researcher of a study which focuses on the benefits of the Mediterranean Diet: “Does pizza protect against cancer?”
Gallus stated in a recent article from WebMD that “Italian pizza is less than 50% crust, 20% tomato sauce, 20% mozzarella cheese, and 4% olive oil” and continued that Italian pizza “is very different from fast-food pizza.”
In fact, you can sometimes even find more than triple the amount of calories and fat in an American pizza than one found in a Pizzeria in Italy. “Traditional Italian Pizza” has a thin crust which is made from flour, yeast, water, olive oil (and nothing else) and topped with tomato sauce and a small serving of mozzarella.
This “fast-food pizza” found in America has a thicker crust made with refined carbohydrates, added preservatives, unhealthy oils and fats, and much heavier toppings. Gallus notes in the article that those refined carbohydrates have also “been directly associated with cancer of the upper digestive tract and colorectal cancer.” Gallus stated that there is “limited information on the potential influence of pizza and cancer risk.”
However, lycopene which is found in cooked tomatoes and olive oil has been proven to have the potential to not only reduce the risk but to also slow the growth of some cancers.
The study showed “regular pizza eaters had 34% less risk of oral cavity and pharyngeal cancer, 59% less risk of esophageal cancer, and 25% less risk of colon cancer.” So it seems that in actuality, certain types of pizza which are low in fat, high in nutrient may help you lower your risk of esophageal and other cancers. This is not surprising given the research conducted regarding the health benefits of a Mediterranean diet.
Want to make your own Italian thin crust pizza at home? Check out this great recipe from Walks of Italy’s website: How to Make an Italian Pizza: The Simple, Step-by-Step Guide
To read WebMD’s full article, “Pizza Prevents Cancer?” Click here