7.8 Diseases of the Digestive System

The low mortality from gastrointestinal disorders among, the Maltese is similar to that of S. European with an SMR ratio of 44 (compare S-European males 63, females 67 -Young 1986, p 87). Much has been made about this "Mediterranean" phenomenon and studies have been initiated to investigate which aspects of Mediterranean diet are so helpful in preventing diseases like cancer of the colon and rectum which are the greatest killers in the Australian-born and in those exposed to a "Western" style living in general. Studies have been initiated by the Anti-Cancer Council of Victoria to discover what aspects of Mediterranean diet have this protective effect against bowel cancer. The obvious difference between a Maltese-type diet and an Australian one is the increased content of carbohydrates rather than meat, and a greater appetite for fresh fruit and vegetables. Such a diet s rich in fibre and relatively poor in meat-proteins. Such a diet has been shown to be ideal for prevention of cancer of the bowels.

Source: Maurice N. Cauchi - Maltese Migrants in Australia, Malta 1990

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