People following a Mediterranean diet rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains are less at risk of dying from cancer, academics have said.

Researchers from Harvard T.H Chan School of Public Health have found that the risk of all-cause and cancer mortality was reduced by resting, doing physical activities and socialising, all of which are key factors of a Mediterranean lifestyle.

Previous studies have also found that rest, exercise, and socialising with friends can prevent heart disease mortality.

Chief author Mercedes Sotos Prieto said: “This study suggests that it’s possible for non-Mediterranean populations to adopt the Mediterranean diet using locally available products and to adopt the overall Mediterranean lifestyle within their own cultural contexts. We’re seeing the transferability of the lifestyle and its positive effects on health.”

During the study, the scientists examined the lifestyles of 110,799 middle-aged and older adults from the UK Biobank cohort.

At the nine year follow-up, more than 4,000 of the participants had died, with 2,401 of these deaths being from cancer and 731 from heart disease.

According to the findings, the adults who adhered to more aspects of a Mediterranean lifestyle were 29% less at risk of all-cause mortality and 28% less at risk of cancer mortality compared to those with different lifestyle habits.

The study has been published in the journal Mayo Clinic Proceedings.

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