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Mediterranean diet protects from both cardiovascular disease (CVD) and cancer. In the 1960s, Ancel Keys defined the concept of Mediterranean diet in the South Italian region of Cilento and proposed it as a key factor for healthy ageing in the region. The aim of the current study was to compare the prevalence of CVD and cancer between a middle-aged population from Cilento and those of a Northern European population from Malmö, Sweden. We clinically characterized two middle-aged (50–67 years of age) population-based samples from Cilento (n = 809) and Malmö (n = 1025), Sweden, respectively. Logistic regression was used to calculate odds ratios (95% confidence interval) for disease prevalence in Malmö versus Cilento inhabitants adjusted for age and sex (model 1) and adjusted for all cardiometabolic risk factors (model 2). The prevalence of hypertension, current smoking, diabetes mellitus and levels of body mass index and triglycerides were lower, whereas HDL-cholesterol was higher in Malmö than in Cilento. LDL-cholesterol was higher and estimated glomerular filtration rate was lower in Malmö than in Cilento. The odds ratio for cardiovascular disease in Malmö versus Cilento inhabitants was 1.13 (0.69–1.87) (P = 0.62) in model 1, whereas it was significantly elevated in model 2 [2.03 (1.14–3.60) (P = 0.016)]. Moreover, the odds ratio for cancer in Malmö versus Cilento was 2.78 (1.81–4.27) (P < 0.001) in model 1 and 3.11 (1.97–4.92) (P < 0.001) in model 2. The higher odds of CVD and cancer in Malmö versus Cilento, when risk factors were accounted for, suggests the existence of unknown protective factors in Cilento.
Subject classification (UKÄ)
- Public Health, Global Health, Social Medicine and Epidemiology
- Cardiometabolic risk factors
- Cardiovascular disease
- Mediterranean diet
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