Cohort study (the SUN project) to identify dietary determinants of hypertension, diabetes, obesity and coronary heart disease (CHD), among other conditions.
The SUN project is a Mediterranean dynamic prospective follow-up (cohort) study assessing participants every 2 years. The recruitment started in 2000 and it is permanently open (this is a dynamic cohort). A preliminary case–control study of myocardial infarction was also conducted, selecting incident cases of myocardial infarction and matched hospital controls.
The SUN study is conducted in Spain with university graduates, most of them being former students of the University of Navarra. The case–control study was conducted in three tertiary hospitals in the city of Pamplona (Spain).
The case–control study included 171 cases and 171 controls. We have currently enrolled more than 17 500 participants in the SUN cohort. Approximately 7500 of them were enrolled less than 2 years ago, and have not received yet the invitation to complete the 2-year follow-up assessment. The follow-up rate for the first 10 000 participants approaches 90%.
The case–control study found inverse associations between olive oil (or adherence to a Mediterranean food pattern) and myocardial infarction. In the SUN cohort, after 28.5 months of follow-up a higher adherence to a Mediterranean food pattern rich in olive oil was associated with a reduced risk of hypertension, though the results were statistically significant only among men.
The SUN study and the accompanying case–control study support the benefits of a Mediterranean diet and olive oil against CHD and hypertension.