A series of Italian research studies suggest that eating pizza might do good things for a person's health. These benefits show up, statistically speaking and seasoned with caveats, among people who eat pizza as pizza. The delightful statistico-medico-pizza effects do not happen so much, the researchers emphasise, for individuals who eat the pizza ingredients individually.
Back in 2001, Dario Giugliano, Francesco Nappo and Ludovico Coppola, at Second University Naples, published a study in the journal Circulation called Pizza and vegetables don't stick to the endothelium. The thrust of their finding was that, unlike many other typical Italian meals, pizza does not necessarily cause clogged blood vessels (atherosclerosis) and death.
Silvano Gallus of the Istituto di Ricerche Farmacologiche, in Milan, has cooked up several studies about the health effects of ingesting pizza.
In 2003, together with colleagues from Naples, Rome and elsewhere, Gallus published a report called Does pizza protect against cancer, in the International Journal of Cancer. It compares several thousand people who were treated for cancer of the oral cavity, pharynx, oesophagus, larynx, colon, or rectum with patients who were treated for other, non-cancer ailments. Several hospitals gathered data about what the patients said they habitually ate. The study ends up speaking, in a vague, general way of an "apparently favourable effect of pizza on cancer risk in Italy".
A year later, in a monograph in the European Journal of cancer prevention Gallus and two colleagues wrote that: "Regular consumption of pizza, one of the most typical Italian foods, showed a reduced risk of digestive tract cancers."