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J Nutr. 2012 Aug;142(8):1547-53. doi: 10.3945/jn.112.160499. Epub 2012 Jun 27.

The Mediterranean diet score and mortality are inversely associated in adults living in the subarctic region.

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Public Health Epidemiology Unit, Department of Public Health and Community Medicine, University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg, Sweden.


The Mediterranean diet has been widely promoted and may be associated with chronic disease prevention and a better overall health status. The aim of this study was to evaluate whether the Mediterranean diet score inversely predicted total or cause-specific mortality in a prospective population study in Northern Sweden (Västerbotten Intervention Program). The analyses were performed in 77,151 participants (whose diet was measured by means of a validated FFQ) by Cox proportional hazard models adjusted for several potential confounders. The Mediterranean diet score was inversely associated with all-cause mortality in men [HR = 0.96 (95% CI = 0.93, 0.99)] and women [HR = 0.95 (95% CI = 0.91, 0.99)], although not in obese men. In men, but not in women, the score was inversely associated with total cancer mortality [HR = 0.92 (95% CI = 0.87, 0.98)], particularly for pancreas cancer [HR = 0.82 (95% CI = 0.68, 0.99)]. Cardiovascular mortality was inversely associated with diet only in women [HR = 0.90 (95% CI = 0.82, 0.99)]. Except for alcohol [HR = 0.83 (95% CI = 0.76, 0.90)] and fruit intake [HR = 0.90 (95% CI = 0.83, 0.98)], no food item of the Mediterranean diet score independently predicted mortality. Higher scores were associated with increasing age, education, and physical activity. Moreover, healthful dietary and lifestyle-related factors additively decreased the mortality likelihood. Even in a subarctic region, increasing Mediterranean diet scores were associated with a longer life, although the protective effect of diet was of small magnitude compared with other healthful dietary and lifestyle-related factors examined.

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