Yes. If you live in Italy, that is.
That’s the sort of fantastical information you dig up if you spend enough time Googling ever-increasingly esoteric information. There’s a whole site dedicated to it: Improbable Research. Their aim is to “make people laugh, then think“. They’re also the group behind yearly ‘Ig Nobel Prizes’, and that’s where our pizza story comes in.
The Ig Nobel Prizes are awarded in a yearly ceremony by actual Nobel laureates, except that the research being commended is generally more comedic than revolutionary. If you check out the winners page, you’ll find papers titled: “The brand personality of rocks (economics)”, “On the rheology of cats (fluid dynamics, discussing whether cats can be considered liquids)”, how to un-boil an egg, why old men have big ears. And these are just the beginning! But right at the top of the list of 2019 winners, there’s this one:
“Silvano Gallus, for collecting evidence that pizza might protect against illness and death, if the pizza is made and eaten in Italy.”
He’s lead author on three different papers on the topic: one on pizza consumption compared to risk of cardiovascular disease, another correlating pizza consumption with reduced risk of breast, ovarian and prostate cancer, and then a more general one, “Does pizza protect against cancer?”.
The main caveat is that simply eating pizza is not a magic cure. The study authors point out that these benefits were only seen in Italy, not in similar studies in the US or Western World. Rather than conclude that living in Italy intrinsically changes the general health benefits of pizza, the authors have instead suggested that it may be the rest of the Mediterranean-style Italian diet that causes these results. This diet includes the consumption of pizza, but not exclusively pizza, and is mixed with the rest of the diet style- incorporating many plant-based foods.
So sorry pizza lovers, you can’t just eat it all the time and be incredibly disease-free, but it does go to show that pizza can be a part of a healthy and balanced diet. So not all is lost!
And if you’re wanting a boredom-curing afternoon activity, feel free to check out more on the Ig Nobel prizes!