- Researcher, University of Cambridge, Department of Clinical Neurosciences
- Associate Professor of Epidemiology, Karolinska Institutet, Institute of Environmental Medicine
- Postdoc, National Institute for Health and Welfare, Helsinki, 2007
- PhD in Epidemiology, Karolinska Institutet, 2006
- Lic Med in Epidemiology, Karolinska Institutet, 2005
- MSc in Nutrition, Stockholm University/Karolinska Institutet, 2002
My research is mainly focused on identifying modifiable risk factors for cardiovascular disease and cancer using data from large prospective cohort studies and by Mendelian randomization analysis. Some selected research highlights are presented below.
Soft drinks and high-glycemic load diets linked to risk of gallbladder cancer
Available evidence indicates that elevated blood glucose levels and insulin resistance may be implicated in gallbladder cancer. Consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages and diets with high glycemic load raise blood glucose and insulin levels and might therefore increase the risk of gallbladder cancer. We evaluated this hypothesis in a prospective study of 76 000 Swedish adults who were followed up for an average of 13.3 years. Our results showed that women and men with high consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages, such as soft drinks, had an over 2-fold higher risk of gallbladder cancer compared with non-consumers of sweetened beverages. A high-glycemic load diet was associated with a similar increase in gallbladder cancer risk.
- Larsson SC, Giovannucci EL, Wolk A. Sweetened beverage consumption and risk of biliary tract and gallbladder cancer in a prospective study. J Natl Cancer Inst 2016 Jun 8;108(10). pii: djw125. doi: 10.1093/jnci/djw125. Print 2016 Oct.
- Larsson SC, Giovannucci EL, Wolk A. Prospective study of glycemic load, glycemic index, and carbohydrate intake in relation to risk of biliary tract cancer. Am J Gastroenterol 2016;111;891-6.
A healthy lifestyle may substantially reduce the risk of stroke
We examined the association of a healthy lifestyle, defined as a healthy diet, not smoking, physically active, healthy body weight, and alcohol consumption in moderation, with risk of stroke among 32 000 women in the Swedish Mammography Cohort and among 35 000 men in the Cohort of Swedish Men. Our results showed that women and men with a healthy lifestyle were 54% to 69% less likely to have a stroke. Similar findings were observed in those at higher risk of stroke because of other cardiovascular diseases or its risk factors.
- Larsson SC, Åkesson A, Wolk A. Primary prevention of stroke by a healthy lifestyle in a high-risk group. Neurology 2015;84:2224-8.
- Larsson SC, Åkesson A, Wolk A. Healthy diet and lifestyle and risk of stroke in a prospective cohort of women. Neurology 2014;83:1699-704.
Chocolate consumption is inversely associated with risk of stroke and heart disease
Chocolate is a rich source of flavonoids, which are potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds. Evidence from randomized trials indicates beneficial effects of chocolate and cocoa flavonoids on blood pressure, endothelial function, insulin sensitivity and lipoprotein concentrations. We investigated the association between chocolate consumption and incidence of stroke and myocardial infarction among ~70 000 women and men in the Swedish Mammography Cohort and the Cohort of Swedish Men. After adjustment for other risk factors for cardiovascular disease, results from these cohorts showed that moderate chocolate consumption was associated with an approximately 20% lower risk of stroke and a 13% lower risk of myocardial infarction. In complementary meta-analyses, combining the findings from the two Swedish cohorts and from previously published cohort studies, we observed that chocolate consumption was associated with an overall 19% and 10% reduced risk of stroke and ischemic heart disease, respectively.
- Larsson SC, Åkesson A, Gigante B, Wolk A. Chocolate consumption and risk of myocardial infarction: a prospective study and meta-analysis. Heart 2016 Mar 2. doi: 10.1136/heartjnl-2015-309203. [Epub ahead of print]
- Larsson SC, Virtamo J, Wolk A. Chocolate consumption and risk of stroke: a prospective cohort of men and meta-analysis. Neurology 2012;79:1223-9.
- Larsson SC, Virtamo J, Wolk A. Chocolate consumption and risk of stroke in women. J Am Coll Cardiol 2011;58:1828-9.
Beneficial health effects of coffee drinking
In the past, the consumption of coffee was generally considered as being detrimental to health. However, a number of recently published studies have reported reduction in risk of several diseases (e.g., type 2 diabetes, Parkinson's disease and dementia) in coffee drinkers. In prospective cohorts and meta-analyses, we have observed that moderate coffee consumption is associated with lower risk of stroke, hepatocellular carcinoma, and overall mortality, in particular mortality from cardiovascular disease. In a meta-analysis of prospective studies, we found that daily consumption of 3 cups of coffee was associated with a 21% reduction in cardiovascular disease mortality.
- Am J Clin Nutr 2014;180:763-75; Stroke 2014;45:309-14; Stroke 2011;42:911-915; Am J Epidemiol 2011;174:993-1001; Stroke 2008;39:1681-7; Gastroenterology 2007;132:1740-5
Alcohol consumption increases the risk of atrial fibrillation
While light to moderate alcohol consumption is associated with a reduced risk of ischemic heart disease and ischemic stroke in observational studies, alcohol consumption appears to be a risk factor for atrial fibrillation, an irregular and often abnormally fast heartbeat that can lead to stroke, heart failure, and dementia. In a prospective study of 79 000 Swedish adults, we observed a positive relation between alcohol consumption and risk of atrial fibrillation. Compared with drinkers of less than one drink per week, the risk of atrial fibrillation was increased by 14% for those who consumed 15 to 21 drinks per week and by 39% for those who consumed more than 21 drinks per week. In a complementary meta-analysis, combining the results from our Swedish study with six similar prospective studies, we found that the risk for atrial fibrillation increased by 8% with each additional drink per day.
- Larsson SC, Drca N, Wolk A. Alcohol consumption and risk of atrial fibrillation: a prospective study and dose-response meta-analysis. J Am Coll Cardiol 2014;64:281-9.
Processed meat consumption linked to multiple diseases
We have observed in a series of studies that high consumption of red meat, in particular processed red meat, is associated with increased risk of stroke and gastrointestinal cancers, including colorectal, stomach, and pancreatic cancer, as well as with survival and overall mortality. In a meta-analysis of prospective studies, we observed that daily consumption of 60 g (about 2 servings) of processed meat was associated with a 22% increase in overall mortality.
- Am J Epidemiol 2014;179:282-9; Am J Clin Nutr 2014;100:924-9; Stroke 2012;43:2556-60; Am J Clin Nutr 2011;94:417-421; Stroke 2011;42:324-9; J Natl Cancer Inst 2006;98:1078-87; Int J Cancer 2006;119:2657-64; Int J Cancer 2006;119:915-9; Int J Cancer 2005;113:829-34
168 scientific articles (2004-2016), 4 invited editorials, and 4 book chapters; cited ~7000 times, H-Index=45 (Web of Science); cited ~12,000 times, H-Index=57 (Google Scholar); ∑ JIF = 1030.
Sweetened beverage consumption and risk of biliary tract and gallbladder cancer in a prospective study.
Larsson SC, Giovannucci EL, Wolk A.
J Natl Cancer Inst 2016 Jun 8;108(10). pii: djw125. doi: 10.1093/jnci/djw125. Print 2016 Oct.
Alcohol consumption and risk of atrial fibrillation: a prospective study and dose-response meta-analysis.
Larsson SC, Drca N, Wolk A.
J Am Coll Cardiol 2014;64:281-9. PMID: 25034065
Chocolate consumption and risk of stroke in women.
Larsson SC, Virtamo J, Wolk A.
J Am Coll Cardiol 2011;58:1828-9. PMID: 21996399.
Vitamin B6 and risk of colorectal cancer: a meta-analysis of prospective studies.
Larsson SC, Orsini N, Wolk A.
JAMA 2010;303:1077-83. PMID: 20233826.
Magnesium, calcium, potassium, and sodium intakes and risk of stroke in male smokers.
Larsson SC, Virtanen MJ, Mars M, Männistö S, Pietinen P, Albanes D, Virtamo J.
Arch Intern Med 2008;168:459-65. PMID: 18332289.
Methionine and vitamin B6 intake and risk of pancreatic cancer: a prospective study of Swedish women and men.
Larsson SC, Giovannucci E, Wolk A.
Gastroenterology 2007;132:113-8. PMID: 17241865.
Folate and risk of breast cancer: a meta-analysis.
Larsson SC, Giovannucci E, Wolk A.
J Natl Cancer Inst 2007;99:64-76. PMID: 17202114.
Processed meat consumption and stomach cancer risk: a meta-analysis.
Larsson SC, Orsini N, Wolk A.
J Natl Cancer Inst 2006;98:1078-87. PMID: 16882945.
Folate intake and pancreatic cancer incidence: a prospective study of Swedish women and men.
Larsson SC, Håkansson N, Giovannucci E, Wolk A.
J Natl Cancer Inst 2006;98: 407-13. PMID: 16537833.
Diabetes mellitus and risk of colorectal cancer: a meta-analysis.
Larsson SC, Orsini N, Wolk A.
J Natl Cancer Inst 2005;97:1679-87. PMID: 16288121
Magnesium intake in relation to risk of colorectal cancer in women.
Larsson SC, Bergkvist L, Wolk A.
JAMA 2005; 293:86-9. PMID: 15632340.
Academic honors, awards and prizes
2012: Strategic Young Scholar Award in Epidemiology (SfoEpi), Karolinska Institutet
2012: Junior Faculty Award, Institute of Environmental Medicine, Karolinska Institutet
2011: Research Associate Award, Karolinska Institutet
2008: Research Associate Award, Karolinska Institutet
2007: Post-doc Award, Swedish Research Council for Health, Working Life and Welfare
2007: Dimitris N. Chorafas Prize for the thesis "Diet and gastrointestinal cancer: one-carbon metabolism and other aspects"