Olive oil intake and mortality within the Spanish population (EPIC-Spain)

Am J Clin Nutr. 2012 Jul;96(1):142-9. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.111.024216. Epub 2012 May 30.


Background: Olive oil consumption is associated with a decreased risk of several chronic diseases, in particular cardiovascular disease (CVD). However, data on the effects of olive oil on overall mortality are scarce.

Objective: We evaluated the association between olive oil and overall and cause-specific mortality in the Spanish population in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC-Spain).

Design: A total of 40,622 participants (62% female) aged 29-69 y were recruited from 5 Spanish regions in 1992-1996. The association between olive oil (analyzed as a categorical and continuous variable) and overall and cause-specific mortality (CVD, cancer, and other causes) was analyzed by using Cox proportional hazards regression models adjusted for potential confounders.

Results: A total of 1915 deaths were reported during 13.4 y of follow-up: 416 CVD deaths, 956 cancer deaths, and 417 deaths from other causes (for 126 deaths the cause was not available). In comparison with nonconsumers, the highest quartile of olive oil consumption was associated with a 26% (95% CI: 13%, 36%) reduction in risk of overall mortality and a 44% (95% CI: 21%, 60%) reduction in CVD mortality. For each increase in olive oil of 10 g · 2000 kcal⁻¹ · d⁻¹, there was a 7% (95% CI: 3%, 10%) decreased risk of overall mortality and a 13% (95% CI: 6%, 20%) decreased risk of CVD mortality. No significant association was observed between olive oil and cancer mortality.

Conclusions: Olive oil was associated with a decreased risk of overall mortality and an important reduction in CVD mortality in this large Mediterranean cohort. This provides further evidence on the beneficial effects of one of the key Mediterranean dietary components.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / etiology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / mortality
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / prevention & control
  • Cohort Studies
  • Diet, Mediterranean* / ethnology
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Health Promotion*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mortality
  • Neoplasms / etiology
  • Neoplasms / mortality
  • Neoplasms / prevention & control
  • Olive Oil
  • Plant Oils / administration & dosage*
  • Proportional Hazards Models
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Spain / epidemiology


  • Olive Oil
  • Plant Oils