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Eur J Clin Nutr. 2009 Jun;63(6):707-17. doi: 10.1038/ejcn.2008.40. Epub 2008 Aug 6.

Associations between food patterns defined by cluster analysis and colorectal cancer incidence in the NIH-AARP diet and health study.

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Nutrition Epidemiology, Department of Clinical Sciences (Malmö), Lund University, Malmö, Sweden.



To examine associations between food patterns, constructed with cluster analysis, and colorectal cancer incidence within the National Institutes of Health-AARP Diet and Health Study.


A prospective cohort, aged 50-71 years at baseline in 1995-1996, followed until the end of 2000. Food patterns were constructed, separately in men (n=293,576) and women (n=198,730), with 181 food variables (daily intake frequency per 1000 kcal) from a food frequency questionnaire. Four large clusters were identified in men and three in women. Cox proportional hazards regression examined associations between patterns and cancer incidence.


In men, a vegetable and fruit pattern was associated with reduced colorectal cancer incidence (multivariate hazard ratio, HR: 0.85; 95% confidence interval, CI: 0.76, 0.94), when compared to less salutary food choices. Both the vegetable and fruit pattern and a fat-reduced foods pattern were associated with reduced rectal cancer incidence in men. In women, a similar vegetable and fruit pattern was associated with colorectal cancer protection (age-adjusted HR: 0.82; 95% CI: 0.70, 0.95), but the association was not statistically significant in multivariate analysis.


These results, together with findings from previous studies support the hypothesis that micronutrient dense, low-fat, high-fiber food patterns protect against colorectal cancer.

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