Unit of Cardiovascular and Nutritional Epidemiology

Our research is aimed at increasing knowledge about the etiology of major chronic diseases, mainly a broad range of cardiovascular diseases including cardiometabolic disorders, but also cancer, fractures, lung diseases, neurological diseases and gastrointestinal disorders. We also conduct research on exposures in relation to birth outcomes.

We mainly study modifiable exposures, such as diet and nutrition and other lifestyle factors as well as environmental pollutants found in food and drinking water.  We also assess genetic susceptibility and how biomarkers, as indicators of disease or of exposure, can predict disease. The overall goal is to improve the knowledge on disease etiology to better inform programs of health promotion for primary and secondary prevention. Research progress in this area would provide firmer basis for both national and international public health recommendations and improve our understanding on the interlinkage between sustainable health and environmental sustainability.

We work in a multidisciplinary way with questionnaire-based data, biomarkers and genetic information. Mendelian randomization studies help us confirm findings from questionnaire- and biomarker-based studies. Several different population-based cohort materials form the basis of our work, in combination with data from national health registers and other registers. Women and men are usually studied separately, with reference to the fact that gender and biological sex can impact the pathogenesis of numerous diseases including cardiovascular disease and cancer. To summarize the accumulated knowledge, we perform meta-analyses.

Head of Unit

Research groups

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Susanna Larsson

Principal Researcher
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Karin Leander

Senior Lecturer
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Alicja Wolk


Unit members

Epidemiological study materials

We administer two epidemiological databases with belonging biobanks (1 & 2). The Swedish Mammography Cohort (3) established at Uppsala University, and the Cohort of Swedish Men (4), as well as two clinical sub-cohorts (5-6), established at Karolinska Institutet had during decades been developed and maintained at the unit (PI Prof Alicja Wolk). Since 2019, these cohorts (3-6) with belonging biobanks create the Swedish Infrastructure for Medical Population-Based Life-Course and Environmental Research (SIMPLER) (www.simpler4health) supported by the Swedish Research Council and coordinated by Uppsala university. We also administer the collaborative efforts COMPREHEND (7) and SCAPIS-Women (8)

  1. The Cohort of 60-year-olds
  2. The Stockholm Heart Epidemiology Program (SHEEP)
  3. The Swedish Mammography Cohort (SMC)
  4. The Cohort of Swedish Men (COSM)
  5. The Swedish Mammography Cohort - Clinical (SMC-C)
  6. The Cohort of Swedish Men - Clinical (COSM-C)
  7. COMPREHEND (Combined Cohorts of Menopausal women – studies of Register-based Health outcomes in relation to hormonal Drugs)
  8. SCAPIS-Women


The ongoing research projects at our unit are listed below.          

Health effects of exposure to undesired substances via food and drinking water Health effects of exposure to undesired substances via food and drinking water

Ageing with elegans – determinants of healthspan

Dietary factors and lifestyle in prevention of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular complications

Risk assessment of benefits and risks and multidisciplinary risks

Diet quality and combined diet and lifestyle in prevention of cardiovascular disease

Diet, lifestyle and cancer incidence and mortality (new upcoming project)

Genes and cancer (new upcoming project)

Diet, lifestyle and mortality (new upcoming project)

Diet, lifestyle and COPD (new upcoming project)

Environment – Diet – Health Nexus

Chemicals safety: A detailed review on the retinoid system

Novel biomarkers and their role in risk prediction of cardiovascular disease

Studies of determinants of myocardial infarction fatality

Gene-lifestyle interactions behind cardiovascular disease

The climacteric transition and the use of hormone therapy in relation to risk of future chronic diseases (new upcoming project)

Premenstrual and menopausal-related disorders, premature menopause, and pregnancy-related conditions in relation to cardiovascular disease risk (new upcoming project)

Content reviewer:
Anna Persson