Live like a monk on Greece's Mount Athos to avoid cancer
Posted : Thu, 03 Jan 2008 03:11:01 GMT
Author : DPA
Category : Health
By Christine Pirovolakis, dpaAthens - Living like a monk may have the
spiritual benefit of saving one's soul, a recent study into one of
the world's most isolated monastic communities revealed as their
dietary and healthy living habits have resulted in lower cancer rates.
The dietary and lifestyle habits of monks on the all-male community
in Mount Athos have shown that regular consumption of olive oil,
daily portions of fish, seasonal fruit and vegetables are among the
main contributors towards keeping prostate cancer below international
averages, data presented by urologist Haralambos Aidonopoulos showed.
"It is not just the Mediterranean diet that helps but generally a
diet consisting of old, traditional standards," Aidonopoulos told
Deutsche-Presse Agentur dpa.
Aidonopoulos said he had examined hundreds of monks living on Mount
Athos since 1994 and found that the incidence of prostate cancer was
four times lower than the international average.
The study found that in the last 13 years, there had been 11 reported
cases of prostate cancer among the more than 1,500 monks living in
the 20 different monasteries in the segregated community in
north-western Greece from which women are banned.
Other factors in the same study shown to keep prostate cancer at bay
were the stress-free existence of the monks away from women, proper
sleep patterns and the lack of air pollution.
The lifestyle habits and traditions of the various monasteries on the
peninsula, which the Prince of Wales visits regularly and which are
only accessible by boat, have not changed in 1,000 years.
Meals on Mount Athos are simple and do not contain meat, but fish is
a regular fare on holidays and feast days such as Christmas and Easter.
The staple foods are bread, olives, vegetables, rice, pasta, soya
dishes and fruit. In fact,the monks grow much of what they consume themselves.
Monks usually indulge in a glass of red wine, which is made locally
from mountain grapes, with their dinner but on fast days - Mondays,
Wednesdays and Fridays - they abstain from wine, olive oil and dairy
Many of the monastic communities on Mount Athos eat twice a day, and
have bread and tea for breakfast and a supper of lentils, salad and
fruit, except during the rigorous fasting periods of the Orthodox
Church, when some will eat only at midday.
The average day begins with an hour of prayers before dawn and meal
times are conducted in silence while one of the monks usually reads a
passage from the Bible. The monks normally have to eat at great speed
because once the reading is over the meal is officially completed.
The rest of the day is spent doing chores such as cleaning, tending
to crops and cooking followed by evening prayers.
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