Italian scientists create a pizza that PREVENTS cancer

The cancer-preventing pizza: Italian scientists use Mediterranean vegetables to create a healthier version of the popular dish (and you can eat it twice a week)

  • Researchers at the National Cancer Institute in Milan invented the healthy pizza
  • It has no meat or cheese, but olives, broccoli, tomatoes and garlic
  • They say the Pizza Pascalina is healthy enough to be eaten twice a week

Scientists and chefs in Italy say they have made a pizza which prevents cancer and heart disease.

The Pizza Pascalina, designed by scientists in Naples, has been called ‘the pizza that extends life’ and an ‘anti-tumour’ pizza.

The Pascalina is packed with ingredients from the Mediterranean diet which are known to have health benefits.

Neither cheese nor meat feature on the dish; its toppings include tomatoes, olives and rapini – a type of broccoli.

It will be on sale at the Napoli Pizza Village, a pizza festival in Naples this week.

Scientists from the Istituto Nazionale Tumori in Milan – the national cancer institute – say the pizza is healthy enough to eat twice a week.

Pizza is usually considered to be an unhealthy treat, but scientists in Milan say they have created a dish – which contains no cheese – which is healthy enough to be eaten twice a week (stock image)

A group of researchers, restaurateurs, food producers and consumers came together the invent the pizza, according to Italian news site Affar Italiani.

Pizza can be healthy 

They hope to encourage people to eat well – and show that even pizza can healthy – the site reports.  

The pizza has a wheat flour base and is topped with cherry tomatoes, rapini, olives and extra virgin olive oil, garlic and chilli. 

The Pascalina does not include cheese or meat, both of which are popular toppings but are also fatty and can contribute to heart disease.

Its healthy ingredients were chosen for their ability to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and some types of cancer in the digestive system, including bowel cancer.

Scientists have long praised the health-giving benefits of the Mediterranean diet, and studies suggest it could help tackle obesity, cancer, heart problems and brain disease.

Research last year showed tomatoes can slow the growth of stomach cancer, and the World Health Organization recommended in May that other countries follow a diet high in olive oil, fruits and vegetables.

Pizza Pascalina will be available to try at this week’s pizza festival on Naples’s waterfront until Sunday, June 10. 

Past research shows pizza slices cancer risk 

This is not the first time pizza has been said to help prevent cancer.

Research in 2003 discovered people who eat pizza at least twice a week are 59 per cent less likely to develop cancer of the oesophagus, have a 34 per cent lower risk of throat cancer and are 26 per cent less likely to get bowel cancer. 

Dr Silvano Gallus, of the Mario Negri Institute for Pharmaceutical Research in Milan, said at the time: ‘We knew that the tomatoes used in the sauce are considered to be a food that prevents certain tumours.

‘However, we did not expect that pizza as a whole offered such high prevention against cancer.’ 

The secret is in tomatoes 

The secret is thought to lie in lycopene, an antioxidant in the skin of tomatoes which makes them red.

It is thought that lycopene may inhibit or even reverse the growth of tumours.

Lycopene is found in fresh tomatoes but is much more efficiently absorbed by the body when the tomatoes have been processed into foods.  

The 2003 findings were published in the International Journal of Cancer.


Consuming more fruit and fish, and fewer sugary drinks and snacks, are the most important aspects of a Mediterranean diet.

Emphasis on: 

  • fruits
  • vegetables
  • legumes
  • nuts
  • seeds
  • whole grains
  • fish and meat 
  • monounsaturated fats, such as olive oil

Less of:

  • Saturated fats, like butter
  • Red meat 
  • Processed foods, like juice and white bread
  • Soda
  • Sugar 

In moderation:

  • A glass of red wine here and there is fine

How you can follow it:

  • Eat more fish
  • Squeeze more fruit & veg into every meal
  • Swap your sunflower oil or butter for extra virgin olive oil
  • Snack on nuts
  • Eat fruit for dessert 


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