Disease aetiology and prevention

Non-communicable diseases are largely caused by an unhealthy diet and lifestyle. We study the role of nutrition and lifestyle factors in the aetiology of cardiovascular diseases, diabetes mellitus and cancer by means of epidemiological studies and randomized trials, underpinned with research on pathophysiological mechanisms.

This group within the Division of Human Nutrition and Health examines the role of nutrition and lifestyle in the aetiology and prevention of cardiovascular disease, diabetes mellitus and cancer, as well as risk factors for these diseases. This is done by means of observational epidemiological studies and randomized trials in individuals who are at (high) risk of disease, making use of advanced methods and data-analysis techniques. Genetic factors and biomarkers of health and disease are measured to elucidate underlying disease processes. Systematic reviews and meta-analyses of observational studies and trials are conducted to summarise existing scientific evidence. Findings from different levels of research are integrated and translated into guidelines and recommendations, whenever possible.

Research focus

Nutrition and cardiovascular diseases

Our research on cardiovascular diseases mainly focuses on nutrition in relation to coronary heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes. Research is done on cardiovascular disease endpoints and on blood pressure, serum lipids, kidney function and pathophysiological processes, such as endothelial dysfunction and inflammation. Cardiovascular diseases are primarily caused by an unhealthy diet and lifestyle. We study a wide range of dietary factors, including minerals, salt, fatty acids, protein, polyphenols, dairy products, plant foods, and dietary patterns.
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Nutrition and diabetes

Type 1 and 2 diabetes mellitus are important diseases with increasing frequencies in many populations from children, adults and in elderly. Both types of diabetes lead to higher risk of developing micro- and macrovascular complications. It is important to know which dietary and lifestyle factors can improve health of diabetes patients. We study a wide range of dietary exposures, including nutrients and foods such as dairy products, sugar-sweetened beverages, fruits and vegetables, meat and also dietary patterns. 
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Nutrition and cancer

Our research on cancer mainly focusses on nutrition and other lifestyle factors in relation to the development and progression of colorectal and breast cancer. We study a wide range of dietary exposures, including B-vitamins, vitamin D, dietary supplements, body composition and dietary patterns. Endpoints that are studied are cancer incidence and cancer survival, but we also investigate underlying mechanisms, e.g. by evaluating diet-gene interactions, epigenetics, gene-expression, and inflammatory markers. Our studies are conducted in high-risk individuals, cancer patients and the general populations.
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Current key projects