Evidence shows that most of the presumably diet-related cancers are not caused (or inhibited) by a single nutrient or food. In order to obtain more insight into the relation between diet and cancer, this study aims to examine the explanatory value of dietary patterns. Dietary patterns reflect the naturally prevailing combinations of nutrients and foods in the free-living population. This study will develop and apply a common methodological approach to examine the relation between dietary patterns and cancer in four European countries, ranging from Finland to Italy. This cross-cultural approach will provide more insight into the validity and generalisability of the dietary patterns, and into the patterns and/or risk factors that consistently enhance or protect against cancer across different countries. This project may contribute significantly to the knowledge on the factors that cause or incite cancer.
This Concerted Action will give insight into the prevailing dietary patterns in each of the participating countries and into the validity and generalisability of the patterns across the countries. Moreover, by linking the dietary patterns found to the risk of several types of cancer in each study, insight will be gained into the patterns and/or risk factors that consistently enhance or protect against these cancers across the different countries.
As dietary patterns are closer to behaviours that can be modified than nutrient intakes, studies on dietary patterns are more constructive for the design of successful nutrition intervention programs. If this project shows that the association between dietary patterns and cancer appears to be universal, dietary patterns are valuable for the development of health promotion activities.
Application, implementation and further systematic development of the methodological approach to analyse dietary patterns is applicable to other epidemiological studies on diet and disease.