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Section of Nutrition and Metabolism

Nutritional Epidemiology Group


Diet, nutrition, metabolic/hormonal imbalances, excess energy consumption, obesity, and physical inactivity are thought to be important contributors to increasing cancer incidence rates worldwide. However, the mechanisms of action of these factors remain poorly understood. In addition, the contributing influence of dietary transitions from traditional diets to those typical of industrialized countries, which is taking place in low- and middle-income countries (e.g. Latin America, Africa, and the Mediterranean region), and of exposures in fetal life/early infancy are not well monitored and studied.

Both large epidemiological (cohort and case-control) studies and clinical intervention studies are needed to improve the understanding of the complex mechanisms whereby foods, nutrients, and energy balance may affect cancer causation, development, and survival. The integration of biomarkers of nutrition and metabolism measured by metabolomics approaches into large epidemiological studies will enable the identification of cellular, biochemical, and physiological changes resulting from specific dietary intakes, physical activity, and other lifestyle factors. This entails the use of advanced statistical modelling to integrate and exhaustively explore the relationships between nutritional status, biomarkers, and cancer risk. Statistical techniques like mediation analysis will aid in investigating the mode of action of nutrients in relation to the risk of cancers.

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