Study Links Olive Oil Consumption With Decreased Risk Of Dying

Study links greater olive oil consumption with decreased risk of dying over 13 year period

Study links greater olive oil consumption with decreased risk of dying over 13 year period

Friday, June 8, 2012. A study described in an article published online on May 30, 2012 in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found an association between greater olive oil intake and a lower risk of dying over an average of 13.4 years of follow-up.

Spanish researchers analyzed data from 40,622 men and women residing in Spain who were aged 29 to 69 years upon recruitment to the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC-Spain). Interview responses concerning foods and drinks typically consumed were analyzed for olive oil and caloric intake.

Over a follow-up period beginning in 1992-1993 and ending 2006-2009, there were 416 deaths from cardiovascular disease, 956 cancer deaths and 417 deaths from other causes. Cause of death was not determined for 126 subjects. Participants whose olive oil intake was among the top one-fourth of participants had a 26 percent lower risk of dying of any cause and a 44 percent lower risk of dying from heart disease compared to those who did not consume olive oil. While there appeared to be no protection conferred by olive oil against the risk of dying from cancer, the risk of mortality from causes other than cancer or heart disease was reduced by 38 percent for those whose olive oil intake was greatest. However, the authors remark that there is evidence that olive oil may be protective against specific types of cancer, particularly breast cancer.

Olive oil contains monounsaturated fatty acids, vitamin E and phenolic compounds, all of which may play a role in the protection against chronic diseases including cardiovascular disease. The authors note that olive oil has been shown to improve systemic inflammation and glycemic control in randomized clinical trials.

"To our knowledge, this is the first prospective study to show that olive oil consumption reduces the risk of mortality in a healthy Mediterranean population," the authors announce. "Our findings provide further evidence on the effects that one of the key components of the Mediterranean diet has on mortality and support the need to preserve the habitual use of olive oil within this healthy dietary pattern. This is especially important in light of the progressive loss of the Mediterranean diet and the increased intake of saturated fatty acids across many Mediterranean Countries."


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Healthy diet and exercise really do improve chances for a longer life

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A study described online in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society on May 15, 2012 confirms what all of us ought to know by now: that a diet containing healthy amounts of fruit and vegetables combined with regular exercise really does improve life expectancy.

The current study analyzed data obtained from 713 subjects aged 70 to 79 enrolled in the Women's Health and Aging Studies, which was designed to evaluate the causes of physical disability in older community-dwelling women. Physical activity levels and total serum carotenoids, a marker of vegetable and fruit intake, were assessed upon enrollment. Over the five year follow-up period, 82 women died.

While 21 percent of the women were moderately active and 26 percent were categorized as the most active group, over half of the participants reported engaging in no exercise at all. Survivors at the end of the follow-up period had serum carotenoid levels that were 12 percent higher than those who died and double the physical activity levels. Those whose carotenoid levels were among the top one-third of participants experienced approximately half the risk of dying compared to those whose levels were among the lowest third.

"A number of studies have measured the positive impact of exercise and healthy eating on life expectancy, but what makes this study unique is that we looked at these two factors together," commented lead author, Dr Emily J. Nicklett, of the University of Michigan's School of Social Work.

"Given the success in smoking cessation, it is likely that maintenance of a healthy diet and high levels of physical activity will become the strongest predictors of health and longevity," she remarked. "Programs and policies to promote longevity should include interventions to improve nutrition and physical activity in older adults."

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