View Full Version : Plant-based olive oil diet (Mary Flynn Ph.D.)

karen z
06-05-2010, 07:44 AM
I posted this on the regular forum and noticed that Hopeful has cited this study here. I also wanted to mention a forth-coming book by the researcher.

A couple of days ago one of the news feeds mentioned a study done by Dr. Mary Flynn, in which a "plant-based olive oil" diet developed by Dr. Flynn was compared to a traditional low fat diet within the context of an experimental study (you will see this posted on our site as "Olive oil produces greater weight loss in breast cancer survivors"). Dr. Flynn is a researcher and practitioner at Brown with a special interest in working with women who have gained weight after a breast cancer diagnosis.

Her new study appears in the Journal of Women's Heath in the June 2010 issue. She has also written a book (available for preorder at Amazon) that outlines the nutritional advice, meal plans, etc. that are based on her research and that she uses in her practice to help women understand what they need to do to lose their extra weight. The book is titled "The Pink Ribbon Diet: Winning Back Your Body after Breast Cancer" (Mary Flynn PhD RD LDN).

06-05-2010, 06:13 PM

Thanks so much for this post! Do you happen to know when the book will be released?

karen z
06-05-2010, 06:19 PM
Hi Laurel,
Amazon lists a date of 9/28/2010.

06-05-2010, 06:37 PM
Thanks, Karen, I just ordered it! I was going to wait and pick it up at our local Borders, but when you said it was that far away, well, I knew I'd forget!

karen z
06-05-2010, 07:04 PM
I have ordered it too!

09-18-2010, 05:49 PM
Hey Everyone!

My copy of The Pink Ribbon Diet by Mary Flynn, RD arrived from Amazon.com. I am here to tell you that it is wonderful! The foods are delicious. Her recommended eating is for prevention of recurrence and for weight loss after treatment. I'll post again in a few weeks to let you know if it is doable and effective. Here's to hoping!

karen z
09-18-2010, 06:07 PM
Wow, Laurel,
My copy arrived today as well (hurray!!!!!!!!!!). It looks wonderful and very doable. I will post again too.

09-18-2010, 08:35 PM
Thanks Karen.

09-19-2010, 11:07 AM
Hi, I'm interested in this too. The title sounds very focused on changing to more of a vegan diet, which makes sense to me. Does Dr. Flynn tend to lean toward eliminating all animal products from the diet like Joel Fuhrman's "Eat to Live", but also focus in on the importance of olive oil?

Still waddling toward better recurrence prevention,


karen z
09-19-2010, 02:03 PM
Hi. I read Mary Flynn's first article (summarized below) and communicated with her before ordering her book. I would suggest reading the article first and e-mailing her with any questions. She is very responsive and easy to talk to!

JOURNAL OF WOMEN’S HEALTH Volume 19, Number 6, 2010 a Mary Ann Liebert, Inc. DOI: 10.1089=jwh.2009.1759
Original Article
levels of high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C), tri- glycerides (TG),9 and insulin,10 all biomarkers for breast cancer (HDL and TG,11 insulin12). Extra virgin olive oil has been associated with decreasing breast cancer risk in Greece, Spain, and Italy, with a dose-response trend,13 making it a potentially healthy dietary component for women with breast cancer.
There is a need to determine a food pattern that will lead to healthy weight management in women who have had breast cancer. This study compares a conventional lower-fat diet recommended for women diagnosed with breast cancer3 with a plant-based olive oil (PBOO) diet for weight loss, im- provement in selected breast cancer biomarkers, and accep- tance.
Comparing an Olive Oil-Enriched Diet to a Standard Lower-Fat Diet for Weight Loss in Breast Cancer Survivors: A Pilot Study
Mary M. Flynn, Ph.D., R.D., L.D.N.,1 and Steven E. Reinert, M.S.2
Background: Traditional diets that include moderate to high intakes of extra virgin olive oil have been related to a decrease in breast cancer risk. We hypothesized that an olive oil-enriched diet would lead to greater weight loss and acceptance, compared with a standard diet, in women previously diagnosed with invasive breast cancer.
Methods: Participants consumed a National Cancer Institute (NCI) diet (total fat >15% and <30%) and a plant- based olive oil diet (PBOO; ��3 tablespoons of olive oil=day) for 8 weeks, each with random assignment to the order. We established a weight loss goal of at least 5% of baseline weight. After completion of the two diet trials, each participant self-selected one of the diets for an additional 6 months of follow-up for weight management. Body measures were done before and after each diet and after follow-up; fasting blood samples were collected after each diet and after follow-up.
Results: Forty-four overweight women started and 28 completed the 44-week protocol. Twelve (80%) of the 15 women who started with the PBOO diet achieved a weight loss of ��5% compared to 4 (31%) of the 13 who started with the NCI diet ( p < 0.01). Nineteen of the 22 women eligible for follow-up chose the PBOO diet, and all completed the study. Of the 3 women who chose the NCI diet for follow-up, 1 completed the study. The PBOO diet resulted in lower triglycerides (NCI 105 �� 46 mg=dL, PBOO 96 �� 37 mg=dL, p 1⁄4 0.06) and higher high- density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C) (NCI 64 �� 13 mg=dL, PBOO 68 �� 12 mg=dL, p 1⁄4 0.001).
Conclusions: An olive oil-enriched diet brought about greater weight loss than a lower-fat diet in an 8-week comparison. Moreover, these women chose, overwhelmingly, the olive oil-enriched diet for 6 months of follow- up. An olive oil-enriched diet may be more efficacious for weight loss in breast cancer survivors than a standard lower-fat diet.

09-19-2010, 06:32 PM

Flynn advocates a meatless diet, not vegan, but vegetarian as she allows modest amounts of dairy and eggs, however she has acquiessed to the wishes of the majority who, like me, love meat and has included meat 3 times per week in small portions. The recipes are easy. I am so tired of being chubby. If it meant fitting into my old clothes, I'd surrender meat entirely. Still, I am glad to be permitted small amounts occasionally. Will keep you all posted. I made rhubarb muffins for breakfast tomorrow. They are my modification of Flynn's apricot-almond muffins. I used rhubarb and walnuts. They're yummy! Honest.

karen z
09-19-2010, 06:37 PM
Wow Laurel,
Those sound great!!
p.s. we may need to you to post your modified recipes!!!!!!!!!!!!!

09-22-2010, 06:13 AM
Sounds very interesting. I don't have a copy yet either but it looks like I need one. I am intersted to see some long term follow up on this study as the diet would likely produce longer-term compliance. Thanks for posting.

karen z
09-22-2010, 06:26 AM
You might also be interested in talking with the author. She is very accessible through e-mail. Also, it would be great to have some sort on on-line educational event with her.

09-22-2010, 06:32 AM
That is a great idea. I'll look into it.

karen z
09-22-2010, 07:10 AM
Thank you Tanya!

09-28-2010, 05:33 AM
I received a response from Dr. Flynn and will post below. I will follow up and see if she would be interested in doing a teleconference. If so I will pursue that with the board.

I am impressed with her findings overall because weight loss is such a difficult issue for women in general but especially after breast cancer. I do want to point out that this was a very small study with only 28 women completing the initial study. Secondly, the goal of the study was not specific to measuring recurrence rates (such as that found in the WINS trial). However, we know weight gain places one at increased risk for recurrence thus we can conclude (cautiously) that following this eating pattern would in turn decrease recurrence risk. As you will read below funding for additional, larger studies is limited. I would be interested in reviews of the book and recipes from those who have read and used it.

From Dr. Flynn: "thanks for writing, I have attached the study, in case you have not seen it. The information on the FU is in the paper. While it is a small study, I have also been using my diet with men with recurrent prostate CA (small pilot study we are hoping to get more $$ for) and in my clinic work (healthy, CHD, CA, all for weight loss). I consistently have had pts tell me how easy it is to follow and to lose weight (esp. because they are not typically hungry). As the core foods (extra virgin olive oil, vegetables, esp. dark and cruciferous, and whole grain) will improve health it is a lifestyle that can lead to long term weight management. I think the postive outcomes of WINS were primarily due to the weight loss seen in that study (unlike WHEL or WHI).

I would love to get more $$ to study more women and younger women; also to follow for longer time. I did apply for $$ for younger women and was rejected. I am actually hoping the book leads to more funding. As you may know, there are not many grants this day for diet research (a lot for genetics, molecular ~ things you can not change!) but I plan to continue to apply."

09-28-2010, 09:59 AM
I think a plant based diet with good quality food helps to loose weight, improve over all health and reduce the chances that cancer will return. I think it may also reduce the impact of side effects during cancer treatment. This is just my personal opinion, and not based upon scientific research.

09-28-2010, 12:19 PM
Huffinton Post listed this article today on the topic of diet...

Low Fat Diet Are Grossly Misrepresented

Jacob Gould Schurman Professor Emeritus of Nutritional Biochemistry (Cornell) & Author of The China Study. Startling Implications for Diet, Weight Loss and Long Term Health (http://www.amazon.com/China-Study-Comprehensive-Nutrition-Implications/dp/1932100660/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1213813515&sr=8-1) (Campbell TC and Campbell, TM II, 2005)

T. Colin Campbell, who was trained at Cornell (M.S., Ph.D.) and MIT (Research Associate) in nutrition, biochemistry and toxicology, spent 10 years on the faculty of Virginia Tech's Department of Biochemistry and Nutrition before returning to the Division of Nutritional Sciences at Cornell in 1975 where he presently holds his Endowed Chair (now Emeritus).

For more than two decades, many commentators have discussed and cussed so-called low-fat diets and gotten away with talking nonsense. It is time to look at some facts.

Virtually all of these discussions are based on recommendations of reports of the National Academy of Sciences during the 1980s when the initial suggestion was made to reduce total dietary fat to 30 percent (from the average of 35-37 percent of calories) -- I know because I co-authored the first of these reports on diet and cancer in 1982. Then, during the next decade or so, this 30 percent benchmark became the definition of a low fat diet. A myth was born because this diet did not lead to obesity, as claimed.

During the next 10 years when this low fat myth was growing, average percent dietary fat barely changed -- maybe decreasing a couple percentage points to about 33 percent, at best. In reality, the amount of fat consumed INCREASED because total calorie consumption also increased. Furthermore, during this same period of low fat mythology (1980s-1990s), obesity incidence increased.

Now, enter Robert Atkins and other writers who argued that obesity was increasing because of our switch to low fat diets. By going low fat -- so the mythical story went -- we were consuming more carbohydrate, an energy source from plant-based foods. This was a serious misrepresentation of the facts.

By falsely blaming low fat, 'high carb' diets for the obesity crisis, these writers were then free to promote the opposite: high fat, low 'carb', high cholesterol and high protein diets rich in animal-based foods, a so-called low 'carb' diet. During the initial discussions of this 'low carb' diet, no distinction was made between the refined carbohydrates (sugar and white flour as commonly present in processed foods) and the natural carbohydrates almost exclusively present in plant-based foods.

Later, some attention was given to refined carbohydrates (sugar, white flour) as a contributor to obesity, but by then the damage due to this obfuscation had been done. 'Carbs' were out, protein and fat were in. By initially demonizing 'carbs' and so-called 'low fat' diets and emphasizing increased protein and fat consumption, the intended path was clear: consume a diet rich in animal-based foods instead of a diet rich in plant-based foods.
Obesity continues to climb but not because of a switch to a plant-foods rich diet naturally low in fat and high in carbohydrate (TOTAL carbohydrate, that is). Rather, obesity increases as physical activity decreases and as sugary, fatty, salty processed food consumption increases.

More serious, however, is the effect that this mythology has had on suppressing information on the extraordinary health value of diets that are truly low in fat (10-12 percent). I am referring to a whole foods, plant-based diet that avoids added fat and processed and animal-based foods. This diet contains about 10-12 percent fat, sometimes pejoratively referred to as "extremely low fat". Call it what you will, but this diet (also low in total protein, about 8-10 percent) produces, by comparison, "extremely low" incidences of sickness and disease. In fact, it now has been shown not just to prevent these illnesses but to treat them. Importantly, this dietary lifestyle cannot be dismissed by the mythological argument that so-called low fat diets have been proven to be questionable.

Professional medical researchers and practitioners also repeat this same mantra as if it is real. It has been shown for example in the very large Nurses' Health Study at Harvard over an observation period of at least 14 years that reducing dietary fat from about 50 percent to about 25 percent of total calories has no association with breast cancer rates. Based on this and related studies, the sole manipulation of fat within this range does little or nothing when the diet still contains such high proportions of animal based and processed foods. Total protein remains very high throughout this range and worse, the proportion of protein from animal-based sources, already high when fat is high, if anything, increases even more when fat is independently decreased.

It is time that we seriously consider the health benefits of a whole food, plant based diet, which is naturally low in total fat, animal-based protein, and refined carbohydrates but rich in antioxidants and complex carbohydrates. The health benefits that are now being reported for this dietary lifestyle are unmatched in scope and magnitude of effect. It is time to discard the gibberish about low fat diets being responsible for the obesity epidemic. This demonizing of low fat diets does not apply to whole food plant-based diets, even lower in fat, because this dietary lifestyle really works. Just try it, but stay with it long enough to allow your body to overcome your taste preferences for fat that arise from its addictive nature.

[More Bio:
His principal scientific interests, which began with his graduate training in the late 1950's, has been on the effects of nutritional status on long term health, particularly on the causation of cancer. He has conducted original research both in laboratory experiments and in large-scale human studies; has received over 70 grant-years of peer-reviewed research funding (mostly NIH), has served on several grant review panels of multiple funding agencies, has lectured extensively, and has authored over 300 research papers. Also, he a) coordinated a USAID-supported technical assistance program for a nationwide nutrition program for malnourished pre-school age children in the Philippines (1966-74), b) organized and directed a multi-national project responsible for nationwide surveys of diet, lifestyle and mortality in the People's Republic of China (1983-present), c) was a co-author and member of National Academy of Science's expert panels on saccharin carcinogenicity (1978); food safety policy (1978-79); diet, nutrition and cancer (1981-82); research recommendations on diet, nutrition and cancer (1982-83); and food labeling policy (1989-1990), d) was the organizer and Co-Chair (but listed as Senior Science Advisor) of the World Cancer Research Fund/American Institute for Cancer Research report on international diet and cancer recommendations (1993-1997), e) was the principal witness for the National Academy of Sciences in two Federal Trade Commission hearings on issues concerning product-specific health claims (1984-1986), f) was Visiting Scholar at the Radcliffe Infirmary, University of Oxford/England (1985-1986), g) was the Senior Science Advisor for the American Institute for Cancer Research/World Cancer Research Fund (1983-1987, 1992-1997), h) presently holds an Honorary Professorships at the Chinese Academy of Preventive Medicine and i) is on the Research Advisory Board of the Chinese Institute of Nutritional Sciences in the Chinese Academy of Science, the government’s leading institution responsible for nutrition research and policy in China and is an Advisory Professor of the Shanghai Jiao Tong University. He is the recipient of several awards, both in research and citizenship. In summary, he has conducted original research investigation both in experimental animal and human studies, and has actively participated in the development of national and international nutrition policy. ]

10-01-2010, 06:31 AM
Thanks for posting this excellent article. Its content sounds like the mantra of my career! I believe in the benefits of low fat diets-wholeheartedly. I agree that they have been demonized in the media, which unfortunately has carried over into some of the medical world. I have been a big advocate of low fat diets especially since the release of the WINS results which demonstrated a significant decreased in breast cancer recurrence. As I mentioned before, Mary Flynn's research is very early and I cannot change my recommendations based on her research at this point. However, I have to admit that I am intrigued by the reseach. The type of fat used in her research is of course the same type of monounsaturated fats recommended from WINS (and in most other arenas of nutrition). I am interested to know what % fat was used in Flynn's research (maybe it is in there but I don't recall). I don't believe we will ever find benefit to a high fat diet no matter the source of the fat.

I did hear back from Dr. Flynn and she would be willing to do a teleconference so I will work on getting that arranged.

10-15-2010, 04:35 AM
Just wanted to let everyone know that I didn't forget about this but I am just waiting to hear back from the board to get everything arranged. I'll keep you posted.

karen z
10-15-2010, 04:36 AM
Thanks Tanya,
I think a teleconference (or related) would be great.

10-15-2010, 09:31 AM
Thanks Tanya.

11-10-2010, 10:33 AM
Hello Tanya,

Is there any news to report regarding a teleconference with Dr. Flynn? I am very much looking forward to participating.



11-10-2010, 10:47 AM
Unfortunately, I haven't heard anything regarding the teleconference. I have been emailing someone from the board but she has had some family responsibilities come up. I am waiting to hear back from her. I may try to contact someone else so we can get going on this. I think it is an exciting opportunity and I don't want to let it slip away.

11-10-2010, 10:53 AM
Thank you Tanya,

I appreciate all of the work that you have put into this.

The diet is especially interesting to me now that I have put on 6 lbs of weight in 3 weeks, despite exercising daily. So frustrating. Naturally, the temptation to eat comfort food is facing me as the sun is setting earlier in the day and the weather gets colder. We had snow the ohter day. A Mediterranean diet is just what I need, along with the beach and the azure sea!

Oh, for a Holodeck, just like they had in Star Trek : )

Have a great day!

11-10-2010, 11:03 AM
I hear you! We had snow here too (Michigan). What I wouldn't give for the Mediterranean beach =)

On a more serious note, I just tried to send an email to the general "contact us" email and it was returned undeliverable. If anyone has any suggestions as to whom I should contact I will be happy to do so.

11-10-2010, 11:12 AM
Hi from Canada.... on my way home, with truck sagging with supplies...

Tanya, I won't be online until this weekend when I get home (aboard a ferry most of the time or on the road), but will contact you to help make things happen once I am home. I too am looking forward to the conference and am glad you and the author are interested in us!


11-17-2010, 07:52 PM
Hi All,

Joe, wherever you might be, you are more and more appreciated....

I just want to say that some of the behind-the-scenes technical tasks for putting together the opportunity to have a presentation and Q/A with Tanya and Dr. Flynn are in progress. As I understand it, it would likely happen after the holidays in the early part of the New Year.

Has anyone figured out any burning questions for the discussion that we could all share?


11-18-2010, 10:50 AM
Thanks, AA. Yes, I emailed Dr. Flynn yesterday and got an immediate response in return expressing her interest in the chat. We will keep you all posted on a date and time.


11-18-2010, 08:16 PM
A teleconference is a good idea. Will transcripts be available for folks who can't attend in real time?

11-28-2010, 12:31 PM
I am not sure how that works but I will find out as we continue on with our plans.

11-29-2010, 01:57 AM
After seing Laurels Post I ordered the book and got it today.The intro is intersting.I am going to go through the recipes and find if there are any which I can do without Hema's help
I find from her intro she is more +ve on Olive Oil than
Canola. I saw in the site about foods for BC patients undergoing Herceptinvontaining a recommended list and a axoid list Canola is in the recommended list.
I request Tanya to say if canola has any +ve traits

11-30-2010, 09:59 AM
Canola and Olive oil are both considered "good" oils to use in the diet, however, olive oil is considered to be the superior oil. Olive oil has more of the desirable mono-unsaturated fats than does canola oil. I recommend using olive oil as first choice followed by canola oil when you can't or don't wish to use olive oil.

01-09-2011, 01:40 PM
Hi All,

Get your calendars out and mark the weekend of January 29th/30th for the Pink Ribbon Diet chat, with the exact time to be announced (29th for USA/Europe, 30th for the Aussies).

Be sure to review the book itself plenty of time in advance so that we can have a good discussion together.

You will need to have the latest version of Java installed on your computer, so don't wait until the last minute to get that done ahead of time.

Advance questions about the diet are welcome - have you tried the diet, or do you know others who have?


01-09-2011, 07:17 PM
Thanks, AA.

We'll be sure to attend the 'Pink Ribbon Chat' on the 29th/30th of January.

Incidentally, I came across this video clip/site today and thought it conveys similar messages. I'd like to get Tanya RD's opinion on this video:


01-10-2011, 08:48 AM
Hi, Laurel:
You and I have similar eating styles. This book sounds really interesting. Will def check it out.
http://www.pinkkitchen.info (http://www.pinkkitchen.info/)

01-11-2011, 12:27 PM
I watched part of the video you provided. I have a few areas of concern. One is the credentials of those promoting the program. They are from self-study programs purchased for $99 (CHEK Nutritionist). Also, I feel that some of the information in the video is based on truth but then exaggerated. For instance, (from the video) whole wheat bread turns into sugar in the body just like sweets and is considered a "bad carb" but rice (not even specified as white or brown) is considered a "good carb". There would be little difference in the blood sugar response between these two foods, in fact, rice may cause a higher spike in blood sugar thus increasing the insulin response. There isn't anything wrong with the foods listed on her "good list" but I think she is promoting elimination of other foods that can be good choices as long as portions are well managed. Exercise is also key for keeping blood sugar/insulin response in check.

Thanks for posting this for review.

01-17-2011, 02:01 PM
Hi, Tanya:
Where did you see the video clip? I'd like to see it, too.

Are you saying that they feel white and brown rice have the same glycemic index?


01-18-2011, 07:01 AM
The link is in Jackie's post above. They don't specify white vs brown, just state that rice in general is a better choice overall, which I found very strange. Several red flags in the video.

01-18-2011, 07:43 AM
Thanks, Tanya. Funny how you can't find stuff, then you see it staring you in the face :)


01-18-2011, 07:55 AM
OK, just watched it. As far as the whole wheat bread, etc., goes...much of the problem is due to what is added to the products, like sugars. It's amazing how many products have added sugar, even spaghetti sauce and soup. Crazy.

But if these products are truly whole grain, low in sugar, and free of bad preservatives, then according to research the body can use them effectively.

I am concerned about what she says about fruits also. She says we can eat as much as we want. I disagree. Fruits are healthy, yes - but they are also high in sugar, and it is my understanding from my studies that we need to have more veggies than fruit in our daily diets.

www.pinkkitchen.info (http://pinkkitchen.info)

01-23-2011, 02:39 PM
Hi All,

The Pink Ribbon nutrition chat is scheduled for next weekend, 2 PM Eastern Standard Time, so wherever you are, you will need to coordinate with that. (2 PM EST on Saturday is early Sunday morning in Australia, and late Saturday night in Europe, daytime in the USA.)

The chat function at HER2support has been down and will not be the location for this chat, so contact either Tanya or I for details to join in next weekend.

Be sure to have the latest version of java installed on the computer you will be using for the chat. It is also best to get set up a few days ahead of time and actually try it out at least once in advance of the scheduled date.


01-28-2011, 11:12 AM
Hi All,

This is just a reminder that there will be a discussion this weekend, 2 PM Eastern Standard Time, about the Pink Ribbon Diet.

Again, it is not being offered at HER2support website this time due to some problems with the chat function here, but you can contact me by either PM or e-mail to get instructions in advance, and it is best to try it out ahead of time to be sure you can connect for it.

Hopefully if there is enough interest and participation, other chats can be scheduled for the future once HER2support chat function is working again.


01-28-2011, 11:20 AM
Sounds Great

01-30-2011, 07:30 AM

02-04-2011, 03:25 AM
A request please/Can anyone who took part in the chat summarise it and post it in this thread

02-04-2011, 04:32 AM
Unfortunately, we only had one member attend the "chat" with Dr. Flynn. I haven't heard that there were log-in difficulties. I would be interested in feedback from the membership to see if the time selected was inconvenient or what might have caused the poor attendance. Dr. Flynn is willing to try again but I do not want to ask her again until I can be sure it will be worth her time. I also will not do it until the HER2 chat room is available to minimize confusion. Anyone with suggestions or feedback is invited to send me a private message or respond to this thread.

02-05-2011, 03:52 PM
Hello Tanya,

I tried to log in for the chat, but encountered difficulties and was disappointed that I missed it. I thought the problem was with my internet provider as the log in kept "spooling".


02-06-2011, 04:57 AM
I'm sorry to hear you had trouble logging in. I was afraid that was happening. The HER2 chat feature is being repaired and should be a better option in the future.