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Higher-educated people often have healthier diets, but it is unclear whether specific dietary patterns exist within educational groups. We therefore aimed to derive dietary patterns in the total population and by educational level and to investigate whether these patterns differed in their composition and associations with the incidence of fatal and non-fatal CHD and stroke. Patterns were derived using principal components analysis in 36 418 participants of the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition-Netherlands cohort. Self-reported educational level was used to create three educational groups. Dietary intake was estimated using a validated semi-quantitative FFQ. Hazard ratios were estimated using Cox Proportional Hazard analysis after a mean follow-up of 16 years. In the three educational groups, similar ‘Western’, ‘prudent’ and ‘traditional’ patterns were derived as in the total population. However, with higher educational level a lower population-derived score for the ‘Western’ and ‘traditional’ patterns and a higher score on the ‘prudent’ pattern were observed. These differences in distribution of the factor scores illustrate the association between education and food consumption. After adjustments, no differences in associations between population-derived dietary patterns and the incidence of CHD or stroke were found between the educational groups (Pinteraction between 0·21 and 0·98). In conclusion, although in general population and educational groups-derived dietary patterns did not differ, small differences between educational groups existed in the consumption of food groups in participants considered adherent to the population-derived patterns (Q4). This did not result in different associations with incident CHD or stroke between educational groups.
Improvements in colorectal cancer (CRC) detection and treatment have led to greater numbers of CRC survivors, for whom there is limited evidence on which to provide dietary guidelines to improve survival outcomes. Higher intake of red and processed meat and lower intake of fibre are associated with greater risk of developing CRC, but there is limited evidence regarding associations with survival after CRC diagnosis. Among 3789 CRC cases in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) cohort, pre-diagnostic consumption of red meat, processed meat, poultry and dietary fibre was examined in relation to CRC-specific mortality (n 1008) and all-cause mortality (n 1262) using multivariable Cox regression models, adjusted for CRC risk factors. Pre-diagnostic red meat, processed meat or fibre intakes (defined as quartiles and continuous grams per day) were not associated with CRC-specific or all-cause mortality among CRC survivors; however, a marginal trend across quartiles of processed meat in relation to CRC mortality was detected (P 0·053). Pre-diagnostic poultry intake was inversely associated with all-cause mortality among women (hazard ratio (HR)/20 g/d 0·92; 95 % CI 0·84, 1·00), but not among men (HR 1·00; 95 % CI 0·91, 1·09) (Pfor heterogeneity=0·10). Pre-diagnostic intake of red meat or fibre is not associated with CRC survival in the EPIC cohort. There is suggestive evidence of an association between poultry intake and all-cause mortality among female CRC survivors and between processed meat intake and CRC-specific mortality; however, further research using post-diagnostic dietary data is required to confirm this relationship.
Pattern analysis has emerged as a tool to depict the role of multiple nutrients/foods in relation to health outcomes. The present study aimed at extracting nutrient patterns with respect to breast cancer (BC) aetiology.
Nutrient patterns were derived with treelet transform (TT) and related to BC risk. TT was applied to twenty-three log-transformed nutrient densities from dietary questionnaires. Hazard ratios (HR) and 95 % confidence intervals computed using Cox proportional hazards models quantified the association between quintiles of nutrient pattern scores and risk of overall BC, and by hormonal receptor and menopausal status. Principal component analysis was applied for comparison.
The European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC).
Women (n 334 850) from the EPIC study.
The first TT component (TC1) highlighted a pattern rich in nutrients found in animal foods loading on cholesterol, protein, retinol, vitamins B12 and D, while the second TT component (TC2) reflected a diet rich in β-carotene, riboflavin, thiamin, vitamins C and B6, fibre, Fe, Ca, K, Mg, P and folate. While TC1 was not associated with BC risk, TC2 was inversely associated with BC risk overall (HRQ5 v. Q1=0·89, 95 % CI 0·83, 0·95, Ptrend<0·01) and showed a significantly lower risk in oestrogen receptor-positive (HRQ5 v. Q1=0·89, 95 % CI 0·81, 0·98, Ptrend=0·02) and progesterone receptor-positive tumours (HRQ5 v. Q1=0·87, 95 % CI 0·77, 0·98, Ptrend<0·01).
TT produces readily interpretable sparse components explaining similar amounts of variation as principal component analysis. Our results suggest that participants with a nutrient pattern high in micronutrients found in vegetables, fruits and cereals had a lower risk of BC.
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.
Whole-grain intake has been reported to be associated with a lower risk of several lifestyle-related diseases such as type 2 diabetes, CVD and some types of cancers. As measurement errors in self-reported whole-grain intake assessments can be substantial, dietary biomarkers are relevant to be used as complementary tools for dietary intake assessment. Alkylresorcinols (AR) are phenolic lipids found almost exclusively in whole-grain wheat and rye products among the commonly consumed foods and are considered as valid biomarkers of the intake of these products. In the present study, we analysed the plasma concentrations of five AR homologues in 2845 participants from ten European countries from a nested case–control study in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition. High concentrations of plasma total AR were found in participants from Scandinavia and Central Europe and lower concentrations in those from the Mediterranean countries. The geometric mean plasma total AR concentrations were between 35 and 41 nmol/l in samples drawn from fasting participants in the Central European and Scandinavian countries and below 23 nmol/l in those of participants from the Mediterranean countries. The whole-grain source (wheat or rye) could be determined using the ratio of two of the homologues. The main source was wheat in Greece, Italy, the Netherlands and the UK, whereas rye was also consumed in considerable amounts in Germany, Denmark and Sweden. The present study demonstrates a considerable variation in the plasma concentrations of total AR and concentrations of AR homologues across ten European countries, reflecting both quantitative and qualitative differences in the intake of whole-grain wheat and rye.
To examine the association between adherence to the Dutch Guidelines for a Healthy Diet created by the Dutch Health Council in 2006 and overall and smoking-related cancer incidence.
Prospective cohort study.
Adherence to the guidelines, which includes one recommendation on physical activity and nine on diet, was measured using an adapted version of the Dutch Healthy Diet (DHD) index. The score ranged from 0 to 90 with a higher score indicating greater adherence to the guidelines. We estimated the hazard ratios (HR) and 95 % confidence intervals for the association between the DHD index (in tertiles and per 20-point increment) at baseline and cancer incidence at follow-up.
We studied 35 608 men and women aged 20–70 years recruited into the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition–Netherlands (EPIC-NL) study during 1993–1997.
After an average follow-up of 12·7 years, 3027 cancer cases were documented. We found no significant association between the DHD index (tertile 3 v. tertile 1) and overall (HR = 0·97; 95 % CI 0·88, 1·07) and smoking-related cancer incidence (HR = 0·89; 95 % CI 0·76, 1·06) after adjustment for relevant confounders. Excluding the components physical activity or alcohol from the score did not change the results. None of the individual components of the DHD index was significantly associated with cancer incidence.
In the present study, participants with a high adherence to the Dutch Guidelines for a Healthy Diet were not at lower risk of overall or smoking-related cancer. This does not exclude that other components not included in the DHD index may be associated with overall cancer risk.
Phenolic acids are secondary plant metabolites that may have protective effects against oxidative stress, inflammation and cancer in experimental studies. To date, limited data exist on the quantitative intake of phenolic acids. We estimated the intake of phenolic acids and their food sources and associated lifestyle factors in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) study. Phenolic acid intakes were estimated for 36 037 subjects aged 35–74 years and recruited between 1992 and 2000 in ten European countries using a standardised 24 h recall software (EPIC-Soft), and their food sources were identified. Dietary data were linked to the Phenol-Explorer database, which contains data on forty-five aglycones of phenolic acids in 452 foods. The total phenolic acid intake was highest in Aarhus, Denmark (1265·5 and 980·7 mg/d in men and women, respectively), while the intake was lowest in Greece (213·2 and 158·6 mg/d in men and women, respectively). The hydroxycinnamic acid subclass was the main contributor to the total phenolic acid intake, accounting for 84·6–95·3 % of intake depending on the region. Hydroxybenzoic acids accounted for 4·6–14·4 %, hydroxyphenylacetic acids 0·1–0·8 % and hydroxyphenylpropanoic acids ≤ 0·1 % for all regions. An increasing south–north gradient of consumption was also found. Coffee was the main food source of phenolic acids and accounted for 55·3–80·7 % of the total phenolic acid intake, followed by fruits, vegetables and nuts. A high heterogeneity in phenolic acid intake was observed across the European countries in the EPIC cohort, which will allow further exploration of the associations with the risk of diseases.
Different lifestyle patterns across Europe may influence plasma concentrations of B-vitamins and one-carbon metabolites and their relation to chronic disease. Comparison of published data on one-carbon metabolites in Western European regions is difficult due to differences in sampling procedures and analytical methods between studies. The present study aimed, to compare plasma concentrations of one-carbon metabolites in Western European regions with one laboratory performing all biochemical analyses. We performed the present study in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) cohort among 5446 presumptively healthy individuals. Quantile regression was used to compare sex-specific median concentrations between Northern (Denmark and Sweden), Central (France, Germany, The Netherlands and United Kingdom) and Southern (Greece, Spain and Italy) European regions. The lowest folate concentrations were observed in Northern Europe (men, 10·4 nmol/l; women, 10·7 nmol/l) and highest concentrations in Central Europe. Cobalamin concentrations were slightly higher in Northern Europe (men, 330 pmol/l; women, 352 pmol/l) compared with Central and Southern Europe, but did not show a clear north–south gradient. Vitamin B2 concentrations were highest in Northern Europe (men, 22·2 nmol/l; women, 26·0 nmol/l) and decreased towards Southern Europe (Ptrend< 0·001). Vitamin B6 concentrations were highest in Central Europe in men (77·3 nmol/l) and highest in the North among women (70·4 nmol/l), with decreasing concentrations towards Southern Europe in women (Ptrend< 0·001). In men, concentrations of serine, glycine and sarcosine increased from the north to south. In women, sarcosine increased from Northern to Southern Europe. These findings may provide relevant information for the study of regional differences of chronic disease incidence in association with lifestyle.
A greater adherence to the traditional Mediterranean (MED) diet is associated with a reduced risk of developing chronic diseases. This dietary pattern is based on higher consumption of plant products that are rich in flavonoids. We compared the total flavonoid dietary intakes, their food sources and various lifestyle factors between MED and non-MED countries participating in the EPIC study. Flavonoid intakes and their food sources for 35 628 subjects, aged 35–74 years and recruited between 1992 and 2000, in twenty-six study centres were estimated using standardised 24 h dietary recall software (EPIC-Soft®). An ad hoc food composition database on flavonoids was compiled using analytical data from the United States Department of Agriculture and Phenol-Explorer databases. Moreover, it was expanded to include using recipes, estimations of missing values and flavonoid retention factors. No significant differences in total flavonoid mean intake between non-MED countries (373·7 mg/d) and MED countries (370·2 mg/d) were observed. In the non-MED region, the main contributors were proanthocyanidins (48·2 %) and flavan-3-ol monomers (24·9 %) and the principal food sources were tea (25·7 %) and fruits (32·8 %). In the MED region, proanthocyanidins (59·0 %) were by far the most abundant contributor and fruits (55·1 %), wines (16·7 %) and tea (6·8 %) were the main food sources. The present study shows similar results for total dietary flavonoid intakes, but significant differences in flavonoid class intakes, food sources and some characteristics between MED and non-MED countries. These differences should be considered in studies about the relationships between flavonoid intake and chronic diseases.
Fish consumption is the major dietary source of EPA and DHA, which according to rodent experiments may reduce body fat mass and prevent obesity. Only a few human studies have investigated the association between fish consumption and body-weight gain. We investigated the association between fish consumption and subsequent change in body weight. Women and men (n 344 757) participating in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition were followed for a median of 5·0 years. Linear and logistic regression were used to investigate the associations between fish consumption and subsequent change in body weight. Among women, the annual weight change was 5·70 (95 % CI 4·35, 7·06), 2·23 (95 % CI 0·16, 4·31) and 11·12 (95 % CI 8·17, 14·08) g/10 g higher total, lean and fatty fish consumption per d, respectively. The OR of becoming overweight in 5 years among women who were normal weight at enrolment was 1·02 (95 % CI 1·01, 1·02), 1·01 (95 % CI 1·00, 1·02) and 1·02 (95 % CI 1·01, 1·04) g/10 g higher total, lean and fatty consumption per d, respectively. Among men, fish consumption was not statistically significantly associated with weight change. Adjustment for potential over- or underestimation of fish consumption did not systematically change the observed associations, but the 95 % CI became wider. The results in subgroups from analyses stratified by age or BMI at enrolment were not systematically different. In conclusion, the present study suggests that fish consumption has no appreciable association with body-weight gain.
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.
Folate plays an important role in the synthesis and methylation of DNA as a cofactor in one-carbon metabolism. Inadequate folate intake has been linked to adverse health events. However, comparable information on dietary folate intake across European countries has never been reported. The objective of the present study was to describe the dietary folate intake and its food sources in ten countries in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) study. A cross-sectional analysis was conducted in 36 034 participants (aged 35–74 years) who completed a single 24 h dietary recall using a computerised interview software program, EPIC-Soft® (International Agency for Research on Cancer, Lyon). Dietary folate intake was estimated using the standardised EPIC Nutrient DataBase, adjusted for age, energy intake, weight and height and weighted by season and day of recall. Adjusted mean dietary folate intake in most centres ranged from 250 to 350 μg/d in men and 200 to 300 μg/d in women. Folate intake tended to be lower among current smokers and heavier alcohol drinkers and to increase with educational level, especially in women. Supplement users (any types) were likely to report higher dietary folate intake in most centres. Vegetables, cereals and fruits, nuts and seeds were the main contributors to folate intake. Nonetheless, the type and pattern of consumption of these main food items varied across the centres. These first comparisons of standardised dietary folate intakes across different European populations show moderate regional differences (except the UK health conscious group), and variation by sex, educational level, smoking and alcohol-drinking status, and supplement use.
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.
In contrast to some extensively examined food mutagens, for example, aflatoxins, N-nitrosamines and heterocyclic amines, some other food contaminants, in particular polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) and other aromatic compounds, have received less attention. Therefore, exploring the relationships between dietary habits and the levels of biomarkers related to exposure to aromatic compounds is highly relevant. We have investigated in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) cohort the association between dietary items (food groups and nutrients) and aromatic DNA adducts and 4-aminobiphenyl-Hb adducts. Both types of adducts are biomarkers of carcinogen exposure and possibly of cancer risk, and were measured, respectively, in leucocytes and erythrocytes of 1086 (DNA adducts) and 190 (Hb adducts) non-smokers. An inverse, statistically significant, association has been found between DNA adduct levels and dietary fibre intake (P = 0·02), vitamin E (P = 0·04) and alcohol (P = 0·03) but not with other nutrients or food groups. Also, an inverse association between fibre and fruit intake, and BMI and 4-aminobiphenyl-Hb adducts (P = 0·03, 0·04, and 0·03 respectively) was observed. After multivariate regression analysis these inverse correlations remained statistically significant, except for the correlation adducts v. fruit intake. The present study suggests that fibre intake in the usual range can modify the level of DNA or Hb aromatic adducts, but such role seems to be quantitatively modest. Fibres could reduce the formation of DNA adducts in different manners, by diluting potential food mutagens and carcinogens in the gastrointestinal tract, by speeding their transit through the colon and by binding carcinogenic substances.
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.
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.
In addition to their possible direct biological effects, plasma carotenoids can be used as biochemical markers of fruit and vegetable consumption for identifying diet–disease associations in epidemiological studies. Few studies have compared levels of these carotenoids between countries in Europe.
Our aim was to assess the variability of plasma carotenoid levels within the cohort of the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC).
Plasma levels of six carotenoids – α-carotene, β-carotene, β-cryptoxanthin, lycopene, lutein and zeaxanthin – were measured cross-sectionally in 3043 study subjects from 16 regions in nine European countries. We investigated the relative influence of gender, season, age, body mass index (BMI), alcohol intake and smoking status on plasma levels of the carotenoids.
Mean plasma level of the sum of the six carotenoids varied twofold between regions (1.35μmoll−1 for men in Malmö, Sweden vs. 2.79μmoll−1 for men in Ragusa/Naples, Italy; 1.61μmoll−1 for women in The Netherlands vs. 3.52μmoll−1 in Ragusa/Naples, Italy). Mean levels of individual carotenoids varied up to fourfold (α-carotene: 0.06μmoll−1 for men in Murcia, Spain vs. 0.25μmoll−1 for vegetarian men living in the UK). In multivariate regression analyses, region was the most important predictor of total plasma carotenoid level (partial R2=27.3%), followed by BMI (partial R2=5.2%), gender (partial R2=2.7%) and smoking status (partial R2=2.8%). Females had higher total carotenoid levels than males across Europe.
Plasma levels of carotenoids vary substantially between 16 different regions in Italy, Greece, Spain, France, Germany, the UK, Sweden, Denmark and The Netherlands. Compared with region of residence, the other demographic and lifestyle factors and laboratory measurements have limited predictive value for plasma carotenoid levels in Europe.
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.