Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

  • Brief Communication
  • Published:

Type does matter. Use VIRGIN olive oil as your preferred fat to reduce your risk of breast cancer: case-control EpiGEICAM study


The Epi-GEICAM study comprises 1017 invasive BC cases matched with controls of similar age (49 ± 9 years) and residence. Diet and OO consumption were collected through a validated food frequency questionnaire. 75% of women referred OO, common (refined) or virgin, as the main fat source. Using conditional logistic regression models, we compared different scenarios of type and frequency of OO consumption, using as reference those women not always using OO for the three culinary practices (seasoning, cooking, and frying) and adding <2 tablespoons (tbsps.) per day during the meal to bread, salad, or dishes. A substantial inverse association was observed in those women always using VOO for the three culinary practices and consuming ≥2 tbsps. of OO per day during meals (adjusted OR, 0.72; 95% CI: 0.51, 1.03; P = 0.07). Potential benefits from OO consumption, at least as regards the protection provided for BC, could be mostly conferred with VOO, and when its consumption is high.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution

Access options

Buy this article

Prices may be subject to local taxes which are calculated during checkout

Similar content being viewed by others


  1. Sung H, Ferlay J, Siegel RL, Laversanne M, Soerjomataram I, Jemal A, et al. Global cancer statistics 2020: GLOBOCAN estimates of incidence and mortality worldwide for 36 cancers in 185 countries. CA Cancer J Clin. 2021.

  2. Trichopoulou A, Lagiou P, Kuper H, Trichopoulos D. Cancer and Mediterranean dietary traditions. Cancer Epidemiol Biomark Prev. 2000;9:869–73.

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  3. van den Brandt PA, Schulpen M. Mediterranean diet adherence and risk of postmenopausal breast cancer: results of a cohort study and meta-analysis. Int J Cancer. 2017;140:2220–31.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  4. Dianatinasab M, Rezaian M, HaghighatNezad E, Bagheri-Hosseinabadi Z, Amanat S, Rezaeian S, et al. Dietary patterns and risk of invasive Ductal and Lobular Breast Carcinomas: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Clin Breast Cancer. 2020;20:e516–28.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  5. Toledo E, Salas-Salvado J, Donat-Vargas C, Buil-Cosiales P, Estruch R, Ros E, et al. Mediterranean diet and invasive breast cancer risk among women at high cardiovascular risk in the PREDIMED Trial: a randomized clinical trial. JAMA Intern Med. 2015;175:1752–60.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  6. Sealy N, Hankinson SE, Houghton SC. Olive oil and risk of breast cancer: a systematic review and dose-response meta-analysis of observational studies. Br J Nutr. 2020:1–9.

  7. Estruch R, Lamuela-Raventos RM, Ros E. The bitter taste of extra virgin olive oil for a sweet long life. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2020;75:1740–2.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  8. Gaforio JJ, Visioli F, Alarcon-de-la-Lastra C, Castaner O, Delgado-Rodriguez M, Fito M, et al. Virgin Olive Oil and Health: Summary of the III International Conference on Virgin Olive Oil and Health Consensus Report, JAEN (Spain) 2018. Nutrients 2019; 11. e-pub ahead of print 2019/09/05;

  9. Yubero-Serrano EM, Lopez-Moreno J, Gomez-Delgado F, Lopez-Miranda J. Extra virgin olive oil: more than a healthy fat. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2019;72:8–17.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  10. Castello A, Pollan M, Buijsse B, Ruiz A, Casas AM, Baena-Canada JM, et al. Spanish Mediterranean diet and other dietary patterns and breast cancer risk: case-control EpiGEICAM study. Br J Cancer. 2014;111:1454–62.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  11. Vioque J, Navarrete-Munoz EM, Gimenez-Monzo D, Garcia-de-la-Hera M, Granado F, Young IS, et al. Reproducibility and validity of a food frequency questionnaire among pregnant women in a Mediterranean area. Nutr J. 2013;12:26.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  12. Martin-Moreno JM, Boyle P, Gorgojo L, Maisonneuve P, Fernandez-Rodriguez JC, Salvini S, et al. Development and validation of a food frequency questionnaire in Spain. Int J Epidemiol. 1993;22:512–9.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  13. Visioli F, Franco M, Toledo E, Luchsinger J, Willett W, Hu F, et al. Olive oil and prevention of chronic diseases: Summary of an International conference. Nutr Metab Cardiovasc Dis. 2018;28:649–56.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  14. Solanas M, Hurtado A, Costa I, Moral R, Menéndez JA, Colomer R, et al. Effects of a high olive oil diet on the clinical behavior and histopathological features of rat DMBA-induced mammary tumors compared with a high corn oil diet. 2002; 21:745–53.

  15. Servili M, Esposto S, Fabiani R, Urbani S, Taticchi A, Mariucci F, et al. Phenolic compounds in olive oil: antioxidant, health and organoleptic activities according to their chemical structure. Inflammopharmacology. 2009;17:76–84.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  16. Beauchamp GK, Keast RS, Morel D, Lin J, Pika J, Han Q, et al. Phytochemistry: ibuprofen-like activity in extra-virgin olive oil. Nature. 2005;437:45–46.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  17. Harris RE, Beebe-Donk J, Alshafie GA. Reduction in the risk of human breast cancer by selective cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) inhibitors. BMC Cancer. 2006;6:27.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  18. Ayoub NM, Siddique AB, Ebrahim HY, Mohyeldin MM, El Sayed KA. The olive oil phenolic (-)-oleocanthal modulates estrogen receptor expression in luminal breast cancer in vitro and in vivo and synergizes with tamoxifen treatment. Eur J Pharm. 2017;810:100–11.

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  19. Rosignoli P, Fuccelli R, Sepporta MV, Fabiani R. In vitro chemo-preventive activities of hydroxytyrosol: the main phenolic compound present in extra-virgin olive oil. Food Funct. 2016;7:301–7.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  20. Corominas-Faja B, Cuyas E, Lozano-Sanchez J, Cufi S, Verdura S, Fernandez-Arroyo S, et al. Extra-virgin olive oil contains a metabolo-epigenetic inhibitor of cancer stem cells. Carcinogenesis. 2018;39:601–13.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  21. Galmes S, Reynes B, Palou M, Palou-March A, Palou A. Absorption, distribution, metabolism, and excretion of the main olive tree phenols and polyphenols: a literature review. J Agric Food Chem. 2021;69:5281–96.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  22. Tome-Carneiro J, Crespo MC, Lopez de Las Hazas MC, Visioli F, Davalos A. Olive oil consumption and its repercussions on lipid metabolism. Nutr Rev. 2020;78:952–68.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  23. Lope V, Martin M, Castello A, Ruiz A, Casas AM, Baena-Canada JM, et al. Overeating, caloric restriction and breast cancer risk by pathologic subtype: the EPIGEICAM study. Sci Rep. 2019;9:3904.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

Download references


We thank to all study participants.


This study was funded by the Fundación Científica Asociación Española Contra el Cancer (AECC) (Scientific Foundation of the Spanish Association against Cancer 2006 & 2016), Sociedad Española de Oncología Médica (SEOM) (Spanish Society of Medical Oncology), Community of Madrid (Scholarship “Contrato de atracción de talento” to Carolina Donat-Vargas), Fundación Cerveza y Salud 2005 (Beer and Health Foundation 2005) and Federación de Asociaciones de Mujeres con Cáncer de Mama (FECMA) (Spanish Federation of Associations of Women with Breast Cancer).

Author information

Authors and Affiliations



CDV: formal analysis, writing - original draft, writing - review & editing. ÁGZ, BB, AC, JMBC, SA, PSR, AA, JÁGS, MR, MM, AJC, CJS, JIC, MGG, RAC, AL, SB: investigation, writing - review & editing. VL, NFLB, BPG: writing - review & editing. MM: conceptualization, investigation, writing - review & editing, supervision, project administration. MP: conceptualization, investigation, writing - review & editing, supervision, project administration, funding acquisition.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Marina Pollán.

Ethics declarations

Competing interests

ÁGZ has received institutional grant from Pfizer; has participated in advisory board activities with Novartis, Palex, Pfizer and Astra Zeneca; has received travel grand from Roche, Pfizer and Novartis. MR has received honoraria from Novartis, Roche and Pfizer. MM has received honoraria from Roche/Genentech, Lilly, Pfizer, Novartis and Pierre-Fabre; has participated in consulting or advisory board activities with Roche/Genentech, Novartis, Pfizer, Lilly, Astra Zeneca and Taiho Pharmaceutical; has received speakers’ bureau from Lilly/ImClone, Roche/Genentech and Pierre Fabre; has contracted research fees from Roche, Novartis, and PUMA. All remaining authors have declared no conflicts of interest. Industry was not involved in the study hypothesis/design, execution, analysis, or interpretation.

Ethical approval and informed consent

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional research committees, and with the 1964 Helsinki Declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. The present study was approved by the Clinical Research Ethics Committees of the following institutions: Fundación Instituto Valenciano de Oncología; Hospital Universitario Virgen del Rocío de Sevilla; Hospital Universitario Puerta del Mar; Hospital Clínico San Carlos de Madrid; Hospital Clinic de Barcelona; Hospital Clínico Universitario de Valencia; Fundación Hospital Alcorcón; Complejo Hospitalario de Toledo; Hospital Mutua de Terrassa; Hospital Universitari de Bellvitge; Hospital General Universitario de Alicante; Hospital Virgen de los Lirios de Alcoy; Hospital Universitari de Girona Dr. Josep Trueta; Hospital Mutua de Terrassa; Hospital Universitari Arnau de Vilanova de Lleida; Fundacio d. Osona per a la Recerca i Educacio Sanitaries – FORES, and by the Regional Institutional Review Boards of Burgos and Soria, Aragon-CEICA, Galicia, Cantabria and Jaen. All participants signed an informed consent and patient information was anonymized and de-identified prior to analysis.

Additional information

Publisher’s note Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Check for updates. Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Donat-Vargas, C., Guerrero-Zotano, Á., Lope, V. et al. Type does matter. Use VIRGIN olive oil as your preferred fat to reduce your risk of breast cancer: case-control EpiGEICAM study. Eur J Clin Nutr 76, 1343–1346 (2022).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Revised:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:

This article is cited by


Quick links