04 May 2020 In General Health

Cancer is a major contributing cause of morbidity and mortality in the Eastern Mediterranean region. The aim of the current study was to estimate the cancer burden attributable to major lifestyle and environmental risk factors.

We used age-, sex- and site-specific incidence estimates for 2012 from IARC's GLOBOCAN, and assessed the following risk factors: smoking, alcohol, high body mass index, insufficient physical activity, diet, suboptimal breastfeeding, infections and air pollution. The prevalence of exposure to these risk factors came from different sources including peer-reviewed international literature, the World Health Organization, noncommunicable disease Risk Factor Collaboration, and the Food and Agriculture Organization. Sex-specific population-attributable fraction was estimated in the 22 countries of the Eastern Mediterranean region based on the prevalence of the selected risk factors and the relative risks obtained from meta-analyses. We estimated that approximately 33% (or 165,000 cases) of all new cancer cases in adults aged 30 years and older in 2012 were attributable to all selected risk factors combined.

Infections and smoking accounted for more than half of the total attributable cases among men, while insufficient physical activity and exposure to infections accounted for more than two-thirds of the total attributable cases among women. A reduction in exposure to major lifestyle and environmental risk factors could prevent a substantial number of cancer cases in the Eastern Mediterranean. Population-based programs preventing infections and smoking (particularly among men) and promoting physical activity (particularly among women) in the population are needed to effectively decrease the regional cancer burden.

24 January 2020 In Cancer

The Mediterranean Diet (MD) has been associated with reduced mortality and risk of cardiovascular diseases, but there is only limited evidence on cancer. We investigated the relationship between adherence to MD and risk of postmenopausal breast cancer (and estrogen/progesterone receptor subtypes, ER/PR).

In the Netherlands Cohort Study, 62,573 women aged 55-69 years provided information on dietary and lifestyle habits in 1986. Follow-up for cancer incidence until 2007 (20.3 years) consisted of record linkages with the Netherlands Cancer Registry and the Dutch Pathology Registry PALGA. Adherence to MD was estimated through the alternate Mediterranean Diet Score excluding alcohol.

Multivariate case-cohort analyses were based on 2,321 incident breast cancer cases and 1,665 subcohort members with complete data on diet and potential confounders. We also conducted meta-analyses of our results with those of other published cohort studies.

We found a statistically significant inverse association between MD adherence and risk of ER negative (ER-) breast cancer, with a hazard ratio of 0.60 (95% Confidence Interval, 0.39-0.93) for high versus low MD adherence (ptrend = 0.032). MD adherence showed only nonsignificant weak inverse associations with ER positive (ER+) or total breast cancer risk.

In meta-analyses, summary HRs for high versus low MD adherence were 0.94 for total postmenopausal breast cancer, 0.98 for ER+, 0.73 for ER- and 0.77 for ER - PR- breast cancer. Our findings support an inverse association between MD adherence and, particularly, receptor negative breast cancer. This may have important implications for prevention because of the poorer prognosis of these breast cancer subtypes.

12 August 2019 In Diabetes

OBJECTIVE: To summarise the evidence of associations between dietary factors and incidence of type 2 diabetes and to evaluate the strength and validity of these associations.

DESIGN: Umbrella review of systematic reviews with meta-analyses of prospective observational studies.

DATA SOURCES: PubMed, Web of Science, and Embase, searched up to August 2018.

ELIGIBILITY CRITERIA: Systematic reviews with meta-analyses reporting summary risk estimates for the associations between incidence of type 2 diabetes and dietary behaviours or diet quality indices, food groups, foods, beverages, alcoholic beverages, macronutrients, and micronutrients.

RESULTS: 53 publications were included, with 153 adjusted summary hazard ratios on dietary behaviours or diet quality indices (n=12), food groups and foods (n=56), beverages (n=10), alcoholic beverages (n=12), macronutrients (n=32), and micronutrients (n=31), regarding incidence of type 2 diabetes. Methodological quality was high for 75% (n=115) of meta-analyses, moderate for 23% (n=35), and low for 2% (n=3). Quality of evidence was rated high for an inverse association for type 2 diabetes incidence with increased intake of whole grains (for an increment of 30 g/day, adjusted summary hazard ratio 0.87 (95% confidence interval 0.82 to 0.93)) and cereal fibre (for an increment of 10 g/day, 0.75 (0.65 to 0.86)), as well as for moderate intake of total alcohol (for an intake of 12-24 g/day v no consumption, 0.75 (0.67 to 0.83)). Quality of evidence was also high for the association for increased incidence of type 2 diabetes with higher intake of red meat (for an increment of 100 g/day, 1.17 (1.08 to 1.26)), processed meat (for an increment of 50 g/day, 1.37 (1.22 to 1.54)), bacon (per two slices/day, 2.07 (1.40 to 3.05)), and sugar sweetened beverages (for an increase of one serving/day, 1.26 (1.11 to 1.43)).

CONCLUSIONS: Overall, the association between dietary factors and type 2 diabetes has been extensively studied, but few of the associations were graded as high quality of evidence. Further factors are likely to be important in type 2 diabetes prevention; thus, more well conducted research, with more detailed assessment of diet, is needed.


24 June 2019 In General Health

In this article, we critically evaluate the evidence relating to the effects of the Mediterranean diet (MD) on the risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD). Strong evidence indicating that the MD prevents CVD has come from prospective cohort studies. However, there is only weak supporting evidence from randomized controlled trials (RCTs) as none have compared subjects who follow an MD and those who do not. Instead, RCTs have tested the effect of 1 or 2 features of the MD. This was the case in the Prevenciomicronn con Dieta Mediterranea (PREDIMED) study: the major dietary change in the intervention groups was the addition of either extravirgin olive oil or nuts. Meta-analyses generally suggest that the MD causes small favorable changes in risk factors for CVD, including blood pressure, blood glucose, and waist circumference. However, the effect on blood lipids is generally weak. The MD may also decrease several biomarkers of inflammation, including C-reactive protein. The 7 key features of the MD can be divided into 2 groups. Some are clearly protective against CVD (olive oil as the main fat; high in legumes; high in fruits/vegetables/nuts; and low in meat/meat products and increased in fish). However, other features of the MD have a less clear relationship with CVD (low/moderate alcohol use, especially red wine; high in grains/cereals; and low/moderate in milk/dairy). In conclusion, the evidence indicates that the MD prevents CVD. There is a need for RCTs that test the effectiveness of the MD for preventing CVD. Key design features for such a study are proposed.

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