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Experimental studies have reported on the anti-inflammatory properties of polyphenols. However, results from epidemiological investigations have been inconsistent and especially studies using biomarkers for assessment of polyphenol intake have been scant. We aimed to characterise the association between plasma concentrations of thirty-five polyphenol compounds and low-grade systemic inflammation state as measured by high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hsCRP). A cross-sectional data analysis was performed based on 315 participants in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition cohort with available measurements of plasma polyphenols and hsCRP. In logistic regression analysis, the OR and 95 % CI of elevated serum hsCRP (>3 mg/l) were calculated within quartiles and per standard deviation higher level of plasma polyphenol concentrations. In a multivariable-adjusted model, the sum of plasma concentrations of all polyphenols measured (per standard deviation) was associated with 29 (95 % CI 50, 1) % lower odds of elevated hsCRP. In the class of flavonoids, daidzein was inversely associated with elevated hsCRP (OR 0·66, 95 % CI 0·46, 0·96). Among phenolic acids, statistically significant associations were observed for 3,5-dihydroxyphenylpropionic acid (OR 0·58, 95 % CI 0·39, 0·86), 3,4-dihydroxyphenylpropionic acid (OR 0·63, 95 % CI 0·46, 0·87), ferulic acid (OR 0·65, 95 % CI 0·44, 0·96) and caffeic acid (OR 0·69, 95 % CI 0·51, 0·93). The odds of elevated hsCRP were significantly reduced for hydroxytyrosol (OR 0·67, 95 % CI 0·48, 0·93). The present study showed that polyphenol biomarkers are associated with lower odds of elevated hsCRP. Whether diet rich in bioactive polyphenol compounds could be an effective strategy to prevent or modulate deleterious health effects of inflammation should be addressed by further well-powered longitudinal studies.
Health-beneficial effects of adhering to a healthy Nordic diet index have been suggested. However, it has not been examined to what extent the included dietary components are exclusively related to the Nordic countries or if they are part of other European diets as well, suggesting a broader preventive potential. The present study describes the intake of seven a priori defined healthy food items (apples/pears, berries, cabbages, dark bread, shellfish, fish and root vegetables) across ten countries participating in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) and examines their consumption across Europe.
Cross-sectional study. A 24 h dietary recall was administered through a software program containing country-specific recipes. Sex-specific mean food intake was calculated for each centre/country, as well as percentage of overall food groups consumed as healthy Nordic food items. All analyses were weighted by day and season of data collection.
Multi-centre, European study.
Persons (n 36 970) aged 35–74 years, constituting a random sample of 519 978 EPIC participants.
The highest intakes of the included diet components were: cabbages and berries in Central Europe; apples/pears in Southern Europe; dark bread in Norway, Denmark and Greece; fish in Southern and Northern countries; shellfish in Spain; and root vegetables in Northern and Central Europe. Large inter-centre variation, however, existed in some countries.
Dark bread, root vegetables and fish are strongly related to a Nordic dietary tradition. Apples/pears, berries, cabbages, fish, shellfish and root vegetables are broadly consumed in Europe, and may thus be included in regional public health campaigns.
Epidemiological studies suggest health-protective effects of flavan-3-ols and their derived compounds on chronic diseases. The present study aimed to estimate dietary flavan-3-ol, proanthocyanidin (PA) and theaflavin intakes, their food sources and potential determinants in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) calibration cohort. Dietary data were collected using a standardised 24 h dietary recall software administered to 36 037 subjects aged 35–74 years. Dietary data were linked with a flavanoid food composition database compiled from the latest US Department of Agriculture and Phenol-Explorer databases and expanded to include recipes, estimations and retention factors. Total flavan-3-ol intake was the highest in UK Health-conscious men (453·6 mg/d) and women of UK General population (377·6 mg/d), while the intake was the lowest in Greece (men: 160·5 mg/d; women: 124·8 mg/d). Monomer intake was the highest in UK General population (men: 213·5 mg/d; women: 178·6 mg/d) and the lowest in Greece (men: 26·6 mg/d in men; women: 20·7 mg/d). Theaflavin intake was the highest in UK General population (men: 29·3 mg/d; women: 25·3 mg/d) and close to zero in Greece and Spain. PA intake was the highest in Asturias (men: 455·2 mg/d) and San Sebastian (women: 253 mg/d), while being the lowest in Greece (men: 134·6 mg/d; women: 101·0 mg/d). Except for the UK, non-citrus fruits (apples/pears) were the highest contributors to the total flavan-3-ol intake. Tea was the main contributor of total flavan-3-ols in the UK. Flavan-3-ol, PA and theaflavin intakes were significantly different among all assessed groups. This study showed heterogeneity in flavan-3-ol, PA and theaflavin intake throughout the EPIC countries.
Whether there are differences between countries in the validity of self-reported diet in relation to BMI, as evaluated using recovery biomarkers, is not well understood. We aimed to evaluate BMI-related reporting errors on 24 h dietary recalls (24-HDR) and on dietary questionnaires (DQ) using biomarkers for protein and K intake and whether the BMI effect differs between six European countries. Between 1995 and 1999, 1086 men and women participating in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition completed a single 24-HDR, a DQ and one 24 h urine collection. In regression analysis, controlling for age, sex, education and country, each unit (1 kg/m2) increase in BMI predicted an approximately 1·7 and 1·3 % increase in protein under-reporting on 24-HDR and DQ, respectively (both P < 0·0001). Exclusion of individuals who probably misreported energy intake attenuated BMI-related bias on both instruments. The BMI effect on protein under-reporting did not differ for men and women and neither between countries on both instruments as tested by interaction (all P>0·15). In women, but not in men, the DQ yielded higher mean intakes of protein that were closer to the biomarker-based measurements across BMI groups when compared with 24-HDR. Results for K were similar to those of protein, although BMI-related under-reporting of K was of a smaller magnitude, suggesting differential misreporting of foods. Under-reporting of protein and K appears to be predicted by BMI, but this effect may be driven by ‘low-energy reporters’. The BMI effect on under-reporting seems to be the same across countries.
Flavonols, flavanones and flavones (FLAV) are sub-classes of flavonoids that exert cardioprotective and anti-carcinogenic properties in vitro and in vivo. We aimed to estimate the FLAV dietary intake, their food sources and associated lifestyle factors in ten European countries participating in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) study. FLAV intake and their food sources for 36 037 subjects, aged between 35 and 74 years, in twenty-seven study centres were obtained using standardised 24 h dietary recall software (EPIC-SOFT). An ad hoc food composition database on FLAV was compiled using data from US Department of Agriculture and Phenol-Explorer databases and was expanded using recipes, estimations and flavonoid retention factors in order to increase its correspondence with the 24 h dietary recall. Our results showed that the highest FLAV-consuming centre was the UK health-conscious group, with 130·9 and 97·0 mg/d for men and women, respectively. The lowest FLAV intakes were 36·8 mg/d in men from Umeå and 37·2 mg/d in women from Malmö (Sweden). The flavanone sub-class was the main contributor to the total FLAV intake ranging from 46·6 to 52·9 % depending on the region. Flavonols ranged from 38·5 to 47·3 % and flavones from 5·8 to 8·6 %. FLAV intake was higher in women, non-smokers, increased with level of education and physical activity. The major food sources were citrus fruits and citrus-based juices (especially for flavanones), tea, wine, other fruits and some vegetables. We concluded that the present study shows heterogeneity in intake of these three sub-classes of flavonoids across European regions and highlights differences by sex and other sociodemographic and lifestyle factors.
Anthocyanidins are bioactive flavonoids with potential health-promoting effects. These may vary among single anthocyanidins considering differences in their bioavailability and some of the mechanisms involved. The aim of the present study was to estimate the dietary intake of anthocyanidins, their food sources and the lifestyle factors (sex, age, BMI, smoking status, educational level and physisical activity) involved among twenty-seven centres in ten European countries participating in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) study. Anthocyanidin intake and their food sources for 36 037 subjects, aged between 35 and 74 years, in twenty-seven redefined centres were obtained using standardised 24 h dietary recall software (EPIC-SOFT). An ad hoc food composition database on anthocyanidins (cyanidin, delphinidin, malvidin, pelargonidin, peonidin, petunidin) was compiled using data from the US Department of Agriculture and Phenol-Explorer databases and was expanded by adding recipes, estimated values and cooking factors. For men, the total anthocyanidin mean intake ranged from 19·83 (se 1·53) mg/d (Bilthoven, The Netherlands) to 64·88 (se 1·86) mg/d (Turin, Italy), whereas for women the range was 18·73 (se 2·80) mg/d (Granada, Spain) to 44·08 (se 2·45) mg/d (Turin, Italy). A clear south to north gradient intake was observed. Cyanidins and malvidins were the main anthocynidin contributors depending on the region and sex. Anthocyanidin intake was higher in non-obese older females, non-smokers, and increased with educational level and physical activity. The major food sources were fruits, wine, non-alcoholic beverages and some vegetables. The present study shows differences in both total and individual anthocyanidin intakes and various lifestyle factors throughout Europe, with some geographical variability in their food sources.
To compare the average out-of-home (OH) consumption of foods and beverages, as well as energy intake, among populations from 10 European countries and to describe the characteristics of substantial OH eaters, as defined for the purpose of the present study, in comparison to other individuals.
Cross-sectional study. Dietary data were collected through single 24-hour dietary recalls, in which the place of consumption was recorded. For the present study, substantial OH eaters were defined as those who consumed more than 25% of total daily energy intake at locations other than the household premises. Mean dietary intakes and the proportion of substantial OH eaters are presented by food group and country. Logistic regression analyses were used to estimate the odds of being a substantial OH eater in comparison to not being one, using mutually adjusted possible non-dietary determinants.
Ten European countries participating in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC).
The subjects were 34 270 individuals, 12 537 men and 21 733 women, aged 35–74 years.
The fraction of energy intake during OH eating was generally higher in northern European countries than in the southern ones. Among the food and beverage groups, those selectively consumed outside the home were coffee/tea/waters and sweets and, to a lesser extent, cereals, meats, added lipids and vegetables. Substantial OH eating was positively associated with energy intake and inversely associated with age and physical activity. Substantial OH eating was less common among the less educated compared with the more educated, and more common during weekdays in central and north Europe and during the weekend in south Europe.
Eating outside the home was associated with sedentary lifestyle and increased energy intake; it was more common among the young and concerned in particular coffee/tea/waters and sweets.
A diet rich in fruit and vegetables can be effective in the reduction of oxidative stress, through the antioxidant effects of phytochemicals and other mechanisms. Protection against the carcinogenic effects of chemicals may also be exerted by an enhancement of detoxification and DNA damage repair mechanisms. To investigate a putative effect of flavonoids, a class of polyphenols, on the regulation of the gene expression of DNA repair and metabolic genes, a 1-month flavonoid-rich diet was administered to thirty healthy male smokers, nine of whom underwent gene expression analysis. We postulated that tobacco smoke is a powerful source of reactive oxygen species. The expression level of twelve genes (APEX, ERCC1, ERCC2, ERCC4, MGMT, OGG1, XPA, XPC, XRCC1, XRCC3, AHR, CYP1A1) was investigated. We found a significant increase (P < 0·001) in flavonoid intake. Urinary phenolic content and anti-mutagenicity did not significantly change after diet, nor was a correlation found between flavonoid intake and urinary phenolic levels or anti-mutagenicity. Phenolic levels showed a significant positive correlation with urinary anti-mutagenicity. AHR levels were significantly reduced after the diet (P = 0·038), whereas the other genes showed a generalized up regulation, significant for XRCC3 gene (P = 0·038). Also in the context of a generalized up regulation of DNA repair genes, we found a non-significant negative correlation between flavonoid intake and the expression of all the DNA repair genes. Larger studies are needed to clarify the possible effects of flavonoids in vivo; our preliminary results could help to better plan new studies on gene expression and diet.
Dietary habits play an important role in healthy ageing. We have investigated the role of dietary patterns on overall mortality in a large series of Italian elderly, recruited in five EPIC cohorts in Northern (Varese and Turin), Central (Florence) and Southern Italy (Naples and Ragusa).A total of 5611 subjects (72·6 % women) aged 60 years or older, enrolled in 1993–1998, were prospectively followed (median 6·2 years), with 152 deaths (98 women). Four major dietary patterns were identified by using an exploratory factor analysis based on dietary information collected at enrolment. The associations between these dietary patterns and overall mortality were evaluated by Cox models adjusted for potential confounders. The ‘Olive Oil & Salad’ pattern, characterised by a high consumption of olive oil, raw vegetables, soups and poultry, emerged as being inversely associated with overall mortality in both crude and adjusted models. After adjustment for gender, age and caloric intake, overall mortality was reduced by approximately 50 % in the highest quartile and a significant trend emerged (P = 0·008). This association persisted after adjusting for several additional confounders (hazard ratio (HR) 0·50; 95 % CI 0·29, 0·86; P for trend = 0·02). An association of the ‘Pasta & Meat’ pattern (characterised by pasta, tomato sauce, red meat, processed meat, added animal fat, white bread and wine) with increased overall mortality was also suggested, but only for the highest quartile in a multivariate model. Dietary recommendations aimed at the Italian elderly population should support a dietary pattern characterised by a high consumption of olive oil, raw vegetables and poultry.
To investigate the association of a posteriori dietary patterns with overall survival of older Europeans.
Design and setting
This is a multi-centre cohort study. Cox regression analysis was used to investigate the association of the prevailing, a posteriori-derived, plant-based dietary pattern with all-cause mortality in a population of subjects who were 60 years or older at recruitment to the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC-Elderly cohort). Analyses controlled for all known potential risk factors.
In total, 74 607 men and women, 60 years or older at enrolment and without previous coronary heart disease, stroke or cancer, with complete information about dietary intakes and potentially confounding variables, and with known survival status as of December 2003, were included in the analysis.
An increase in the score which measures the adherence to the plant-based diet was associated with a lower overall mortality, a one standard deviation increment corresponding to a statistically significant reduction of 14% (95% confidence interval 5–23%). In country-specific analyses the apparent association was stronger in Greece, Spain, Denmark and The Netherlands, and absent in the UK and Germany.
Greater adherence to the plant-based diet that was defined a posteriori in this population of European elders is associated with lower all-cause mortality. This dietary score is moderately positively correlated with the Modified Mediterranean Diet Score that has been constructed a priori and was also shown to be beneficial for the survival of the same EPIC-Elderly cohort.
There is increasing evidence for a significant effect of processed meat (PM) intake on cancer risk. However, refined knowledge on how components of this heterogeneous food group are associated with cancer risk is still missing. Here, actual data on the intake of PM subcategories is given; within a food-based approach we considered preservation methods, cooking methods and nutrient content for stratification, in order to address most of the aetiologically relevant hypotheses.
Design and setting
Standardised computerised 24-hour diet recall interviews were collected within the framework of the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC), a prospective cohort study in 27 centres across 10 European countries.
Subjects were 22 924 women and 13 031 men aged 35–74 years.
Except for the so-called ‘health-conscious’ cohort in the UK, energy-adjusted total PM intake ranged between 11.1 and 47.9 g day−1 in women and 18.8 and 88.5 g day−1 in men. Ham, salami-type sausages and heated sausages contributed most to the overall PM intake. The intake of cured (addition of nitrate/nitrite) PM was highest in the German, Dutch and northern European EPIC centres, with up to 68.8 g day−1 in men. The same was true for smoked PM (up to 51.8 g day−1). However, due to the different manufacturing practice, the highest average intake of NaNO2 through PM consumption was found for the Spanish centres (5.4 mg day−1 in men) as compared with German and British centres. Spanish centres also showed the highest intake of NaCl-rich types of PM; most cholesterol- and iron-rich PM was consumed in central and northern European centres. Possibly hazardous cooking methods were more often used for PM preparation in central and northern European centres.
We applied a food-based categorisation of PM that addresses aetiologically relevant mechanisms for cancer development and found distinct differences in dietary intake of these categories of PM across European cohorts. This predisposes EPIC to further investigate the role of PM in cancer aetiology.
Tree nuts, peanuts and seeds are nutrient dense foods whose intake has been shown to be associated with reduced risk of some chronic diseases. They are regularly consumed in European diets either as whole, in spreads or from hidden sources (e.g. commercial products). However, little is known about their intake profiles or differences in consumption between European countries or geographic regions. The objective of this study was to analyse the population mean intake and average portion sizes in subjects reporting intake of nuts and seeds consumed as whole, derived from hidden sources or from spreads. Data was obtained from standardised 24-hour dietary recalls collected from 36 994 subjects in 10 different countries that are part of the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC). Overall, for nuts and seeds consumed as whole, the percentage of subjects reporting intake on the day of the recall was: tree nuts = 4·4%, peanuts = 2·3% and seeds = 1·3%. The data show a clear northern (Sweden: mean intake = 0·15 g/d, average portion size = 15·1 g/d) to southern (Spain: mean intake = 2·99 g/d, average portion size = 34·7 g/d) European gradient of whole tree nut intake. The three most popular tree nuts were walnuts, almonds and hazelnuts, respectively. In general, tree nuts were more widely consumed than peanuts or seeds. In subjects reporting intake, men consumed a significantly higher average portion size of tree nuts (28·5 v. 23·1 g/d, P<0·01) and peanuts (46·1 v. 35·1 g/d, P<0·01) per day than women. These data may be useful in devising research initiatives and health policy strategies based on the intake of this food group.
Overall dietary patterns have been associated with health and longevity. We used principal component (PC) and cluster analyses to identify the prevailing dietary patterns of 99 744 participants, aged 60 years or older, living in nine European countries and participating in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC-Elderly cohort) and to examine their socio-demographic and lifestyle correlates. Two PC were identified: PC1 reflects a ‘vegetable-based’ diet with an emphasis on foods of plant origin, rice, pasta and other grain rather than on margarine, potatoes and non-alcoholic beverages. PC2 indicates a ‘sweet- and fat-dominated’ diet with a preference for sweets, added fat and dairy products but not meat, alcohol, bread and eggs. PC1 was associated with a younger age, a higher level of education, physical activity, a higher BMI, a lower waist:hip ratio and never and past smoking. PC2 was associated with older age, less education, never having smoked, a lower BMI and waist:hip ratio and lower levels of physical activity. Elderly individuals in southern Europe scored positively on PC1 and about zero on PC2, whereas the elderly in northern Europe scored negatively on PC1 and variably on PC2. The results of cluster analysis were compatible with the indicated dietary patterns. ‘Vegetable-based’ and a ‘sweet- and fat-dominated’ diets are prevalent among the elderly across Europe, and there is a north–south gradient regarding their dietary choices. Our study contributes to the identification of groups of elderly who are likely to have different prospects for long-term disease occurrence and survival.
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