Mediterranean diet and olive oil, microbiota, and obesity-related cancers. From mechanisms to prevention

Semin Cancer Biol. 2023 Oct:95:103-119. doi: 10.1016/j.semcancer.2023.08.001. Epub 2023 Aug 4.


Olive oil (OO) is the main source of added fat in the Mediterranean diet (MD). It is a mix of bioactive compounds, including monounsaturated fatty acids, phytosterols, simple phenols, secoiridoids, flavonoids, and terpenoids. There is a growing body of evidence that MD and OO improve obesity-related factors. In addition, obesity has been associated with an increased risk for several cancers: endometrial, oesophageal adenocarcinoma, renal, pancreatic, hepatocellular, gastric cardia, meningioma, multiple myeloma, colorectal, postmenopausal breast, ovarian, gallbladder, and thyroid cancer. However, the epidemiological evidence linking MD and OO with these obesity-related cancers, and their potential mechanisms of action, especially those involving the gut microbiota, are not clearly described or understood. The goals of this review are 1) to update the current epidemiological knowledge on the associations between MD and OO consumption and obesity-related cancers, 2) to identify the gut microbiota mechanisms involved in obesity-related cancers, and 3) to report the effects of MD and OO on these mechanisms.

Keywords: Cancer; Mediterranean diet; Microbiota; Obesity; Olive oil.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Diet, Mediterranean*
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome*
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms* / epidemiology
  • Neoplasms* / etiology
  • Neoplasms* / prevention & control
  • Obesity / complications
  • Olive Oil / therapeutic use


  • Olive Oil