Unit of Nutritional Epidemiology
The primary objective of our scientific program is to understand the causal relations between nutrition, as well as other lifestyle factors and major chronic diseases.
Our research focus is to discover the environmental, genetic and epigenetic determinants of chronic diseases and develop new approaches for their prevention. We work in an interdisciplinary way with both questionnaire-based research and research on biomarkers to understand associations between diet, lifestyle and health and to investigate mechanisms behind the development of chronic diseases.
Our research encompasses diet, energy balance, obesity, physical activity, specific nutrients and dietary supplements, use of certain medicines, food-related contaminants, smoking, and intermediate biological markers. We investigate the associations with major chronic diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, bone health, cataracts, kidney disease, gastro-intestinal diseases, lower urinary tract symptoms, obesity, etc.
It has been recognized that dietary changes could potentially have enormous public health benefits, for example reducing incidence of cardiovascular, cancer and other chronic diseases. While we have made some notable advances, there still remains considerable uncertainty about nutritional determinants of chronic disease and their associated biological mechanisms.
Progress in resolving these uncertainties would advance the field of Nutritional Epidemiology and put both national and international public health recommendations and programs of health promotion and prevention on firmer evidence-based knowledge.
Population-based prospective cohort studies
To pursue our hypotheses, we currently administer four prospective cohorts, compriced of 110 000 participants:
- The Swedish Mammography Cohort (SMC)
- The Swedish Mammography Cohort - Clinical (SMC-C)
- The Cohort of Swedish Men (COSM)
- The Cohort of Swedish Men - Clinical (COSM-C)
Projects at the Unit of Nutritional Epidemiology
The major part of the research at the Nutritional Epidemiology Unit is based on projects using data from two large cohorts; the Swedish Mammography Cohort (SMC) and the Cohort of Swedish Men (COSM). In this section, the cohorts and some of the results are described.
Follow-up of the cohort is accomplished through matching with national and regional registers with high completeness of diagnoses and population registers. In total the two cohorts currently hold information on more than 30,000 cardiovascular disease, 15,000 type 2 diabetes, 20,000 cancers, 20,000 fractures, 20,000 cataract extracts, and 28,000 deaths.
The cohorts will also be extended with additional information about polymorphisms in low risk genes. This will facilitate studies of genetic susceptibility and of interplay/interactions between lifestyle factors and genes in the development of chronic diseases.
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