Adhering to a Mediterranean lifestyle, including consuming a Mediterranean diet and getting enough exercise, reduces the risk of premature death and particularly the risk of death from cancer.
A new study involving experts from the University of Oxford examined the link between a Mediterranean lifestyle in all-cause mortality, cancer and cardiovascular disease. The results are published in the journal Mayo Clinic Proceedings.
Data from almost 111,000 participants evaluated
The researchers analyzed the lifestyle and dietary habits of 110,799 people aged between 40 and 75 who were part of the UK Biobank cohort. Based on the information provided by the participants, the so-called Index for a Mediterranean Lifestyle (MEDLIFE) was evaluated.
This index captures factors such as consumption of Mediterranean foods (e.g. fruit and whole grains), adherence to Mediterranean dietary habits (e.g. reducing salt consumption), physical activity (exercise), rest (enough sleep), social habits and sociability ( time with friends), explain the researchers.
Over 4,200 participants died
Over an observation period of nine years, the experts determined how adherence to a Mediterranean lifestyle affected all-cause mortality, the occurrence of cancer and cardiovascular diseases.
A total of 4,247 participants died during this period, 2,401 from cancer and 731 from cardiovascular disease, the team reports.
Mediterranean lifestyle protects against premature death
When evaluating the data, an inverse relationship was found between adherence to the Mediterranean lifestyle and the general risk of death.
According to the researchers, participants who adhered the most to a Mediterranean lifestyle had a 29 percent lower risk of all-cause mortality and a 28 percent lower risk of cancer mortality compared to people who adhered least to such a lifestyle.
Looking at the different aspects of the index individually, the categories of physical activity, rest, social habits and sociability were most significantly associated with a reduced risk of all-cause and cancer mortality. According to the researchers, a connection with a lower risk of fatal cardiovascular diseases was also found here.
The consumption of Mediterranean foods and adherence to Mediterranean dietary habits also led to a significantly reduced cancer mortality and all-cause mortality when examined individually.
Mediterranean lifestyle can prevent premature death
“This study suggests that it is also possible for non-Mediterranean populations to adopt the Mediterranean diet with locally available products and adopt the Mediterranean lifestyle in their own cultural context” to reap the health benefits, explains study author Mercedes Sotos Prieto in a press release.
Adhering to a Mediterranean lifestyle can reduce the risk of premature death in general and premature death from cancer in particular, the research team concludes. (as)