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Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2004 Feb;13(2):293-8.

Relative validity of a food frequency questionnaire with a meat-cooking and heterocyclic amine module.

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  • 1Nutrition Epidemiology Branch, Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics, National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, Rockville, Maryland 20852, USA.


The nutrient and heterocyclic amine (HCA) intake of 165 healthy participants was assessed using a self-administered food frequency questionnaire (FFQ), which included a meat-cooking practices module. A database containing the HCA [2-amino-3,8-dimethylimadazo [4,5-f] quinoxaline (MeIQx) and 2-amino-1-methyl-6-phenylimadazo [4,5-b] pyridine (PhIP)] composition of various types of meat, cooked by different methods and to varying degrees, was developed and validated in conjunction with this module. The relative validity of dietary and HCA intake estimated by the FFQ was investigated using multiple food diaries (3 sets of 4 nonconsecutive day diaries completed over a 3-month period) as the reference method. Crude correlation coefficients of HCA intake assessed by the FFQ and food diaries were 0.43 [95% confidence interval (CI) 0.30-0.55] for MeIQx and 0.22 (95% CI 0.07-0.36) for PhIP intake. Deattenuated correlations were 0.60 (95% CI 0.49-0.69) and 0.36 (95% CI 0.22-0.49), respectively. Absolute MeIQx and PhIP intake was, however, underestimated by the FFQ (21.9 and 78.1 ng/day) compared with the food diaries (34.9 and 263.8 ng/day). The FFQ underestimated total red meat intake, the percentage of consumers, and the median intake of roast/baked and microwaved red meat. PhIP intake was severely underestimated by the FFQ and was most likely because of an underestimation of the percentage of people who cooked chicken using PhIP-producing cooking methods such as broiling and pan-frying. Additionally, the FFQ overestimated the percentage of consumers of baked chicken, a cooking method that produces less PhIP. In conclusion, although the FFQ and meat module underestimated absolute MeIQx and PhIP intake, its ability to rank individuals according to intake was acceptable.

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