23 November 2022 In Cancer

There is evidence that diet and nutrition are modifiable risk factors for several cancers, but associations may be flawed due to inherent biases. Nutritional epidemiology studies have largely relied on a single assessment of diet using food frequency questionnaires. We conduct an umbrella review of meta-analyses of observational studies to evaluate the strength and validity of the evidence for the association between food/nutrient intake and risk of developing or dying from 11 primary cancers. It is estimated that only few single food/nutrient and cancer associations are supported by strong or highly suggestive meta-analytic evidence, and future similar research is unlikely to change this evidence. Alcohol consumption is positively associated with risk of postmenopausal breast, colorectal, esophageal, head & neck and liver cancer. Consumption of dairy products, milk, calcium and wholegrains are inversely associated with colorectal cancer risk. Coffee consumption is inversely associated with risk of liver cancer and skin basal cell carcinoma.

23 February 2022 In General Health

Adherence to the traditional Mediterranean diet has been customarily assessed with the Mediterranean diet score (MDS or Trichopolou Index), with values of 0 or 1 assigned to each of the nine elements, and with the use of the sex-specific median as the cutoff. The value of persons whose consumption of the six beneficial items (ratio of monounsaturated to saturated fatty acids, vegetables, legumes, fruits and nuts, cereal, and fish) is at or above the median and is assigned a value of 1. Otherwise they receive 0 points.

For detrimental elements (meats and dairy products) persons whose consumption is below the median are assigned a value of 1. An additional ninth point is assigned to moderate ethanol intake. We assessed the effect of each of the nine components of the MDS (replacing the fats ratio with olive oil, the main source of monounsaturated fats in the Mediterranean diet) on the risk of COVID-19 infection, symptomatic and severe COVID-19. From March to December 2020, 9,699 participants of the "Seguimiento Universidad de Navarra" (SUN) cohort answered a COVID-19 questionnaire.

After excluding doctors and nurses, 5,194 participants were included in the main statistical analyses. Among them, we observed 382 cases of COVID-19 based on symptoms and clinical diagnosis; 167 of them with test confirmation. For the two COVID-19 definitions used, we found a significant decrease in risk for a higher adherence to the Mediterranean diet (OR = 0.64, 95% CI: 0.42-0.98, p for trend = 0.040; and OR = 0.44, 95% CI: 0.22-0.88, p for trend = 0.020, for test-diagnosed cases).

A protective effect was also found for symptomatic COVID-19 (OR = 0.64, 95% CI: 0.41-1.00, p for trend = 0.050). Among the different individual food groups, only the consumption of whole dairy products showed a harmful direct association. The Mediterranean diet as a whole seems more important than each of its components in preventing the infection and symptoms of COVID-19.

22 February 2019 In General Health

The determination of appropriate dietary strategies for the prevention of chronic degenerative diseases, cancer, diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases remains a challenging and highly relevant issue worldwide. Epidemiological dietary interventions have been studied for decades with contrasting impacts on human health. Moreover, research scientists and physicians have long debated diets encouraging alcohol intake, such as the Mediterranean and French-style diets, with regard to their impact on human health. Understanding the effects of these diets may help to improve in the treatment and prevention of diseases. However, further studies are warranted to determine which individual food components, or combinations thereof, have a beneficial impact on different diseases, since a large number of different compounds may occur in a single food, and their fate in vivo is difficult to measure. Most explanations for the positive effects of Mediterranean-style diet, and of the French paradox, have focused largely on the beneficial properties of antioxidants, among other compounds/metabolites, in foods and red wine. Wine is a traditional alcoholic beverage that has been associated with both healthy and harmful effects. Not withstanding some doubts, there is reasonable unanimity among researchers as to the beneficial effects of moderate wine consumption on cardiovascular disease, diabetes, osteoporosis, and longevity, which have been ascribed to polyphenolic compounds present in wine. Despite this, conflicting findings regarding the impact of alcohol consumption on human health, and contradictory findings concerning the effects of non-alcoholic wine components such as resveratrol, have led to confusion among consumers. In addition to these contradictions and misconceptions, there is a paucity of human research studies confirming known positive effects of polyphenols in vivo. Furthermore, studies balancing both known and unknown prognostic factors have mostly been conducted in vitro or using animal models. Moreover, current studies have shifted focus from red wine to dairy products, such as cheese, to explain the French paradox. The aim of this review is to highlight the contradictions, misconceptions, and scientific facts about wines and diets, giving special focus to the Mediterranean and French diets in disease prevention and human health improvement. To answer the multiplicity of questions regarding the effects of diet and specific diet components on health, and to relieve consumer uncertainty and promote health, comprehensive cross-demographic studies using the latest technologies, which include foodomics and integrated omics approaches, are warranted.

26 April 2017 In General Health

PURPOSE: Endothelial dysfunction and low-grade inflammation are key phenomena in the pathobiology of cardiovascular disease (CVD). Their dietary modification might explain the observed reduction in CVD that has been associated with a healthy diet rich in fruit, vegetables and fish, low in dairy products and with moderate alcohol and red wine consumption. We investigated the associations between the above food groups and endothelial dysfunction and low-grade inflammation in a population-based cohort of Dutch elderly individuals.

METHODS: Diet was measured by food frequency questionnaire (n = 801; women = 399; age 68.5 +/- 7.2 years). Endothelial dysfunction was determined (1) by combining von Willebrand factor, and soluble intercellular adhesion molecule 1 (sICAM-1), vascular cell adhesion molecule 1, endothelial selectin and thrombomodulin, using Z-scores, into a biomarker score and (2) by flow-mediated vasodilation (FMD), and low-grade inflammation by combining C-reactive protein, serum amyloid A, interleukin 6, interleukin 8, tumour necrosis factor alpha and sICAM-1 into a biomarker score, with smaller FMD and higher scores representing more dysfunction and inflammation, respectively. We used linear regression analyses to adjust associations for sex, age, energy, glucose metabolism, body mass index, smoking, prior CVD, educational level, physical activity and each of the other food groups.

RESULTS: Moderate [beta (95% CI) -0.13 (-0.33; 0.07)] and high [-0.22 (-0.45; -0.003)] alcohol consumption, and red wine [-0.16 (-0.30; -0.01)] consumption, but none of the other food groups, were associated with a lower endothelial dysfunction biomarker score and a greater FMD. The associations for FMD were, however, not statistically significant. Only red wine consumption was associated with a lower low-grade inflammation biomarker score [-0.18 (-0.33; -0.04)].

CONCLUSIONS: Alcohol and red wine consumption may favourably influence processes involved in atherothrombosis.

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