Flavonoids are effective antioxidants and, in theory, may provide protection against cancer, although direct human evidence of this is scarce. The relation between the intake of antioxidant flavonoids and subsequent risk of cancer was studied among 9,959 Finnish men and women aged 15-99 years and initially cancer free. Food consumption was estimated by the dietary history method, covering the total habitual diet during the previous year. During a follow-up in 1967-1991, 997 cancer cases and 151 lung cancer cases were diagnosed. An inverse association was observed between the intake of flavonoids and incidence of all sites of cancer combined. The sex- and age-adjusted relative risk of all sites of cancer combined between the highest and lowest quartiles of flavonoid intake was 0.80 (95% confidence interval 0.67-0.96). This association was mainly a result of lung cancer, which presented a corresponding relative risk of 0.54 (95% confidence interval 0.34-0.87). The association between flavonoid intake and lung cancer incidence was not due to the intake of antioxidant vitamins or other potential confounding factors, as adjustment for factors such as smoking and intakes of energy, vitamin E, vitamin C, and beta-carotene did not materially alter the results. The association was strongest in persons under 50 years of age and in nonsmokers with relative risks of 0.33 (95% confidence interval 0.15-0.77) and 0.13 (95% confidence interval 0.03-0.58), respectively. Of the major dietary flavonoid sources, the consumption of apples showed an inverse association with lung cancer incidence, with a relative risk of 0.42 (95% confidence interval 0.23-0.76) after adjustment for the intake of other fruits and vegetables. The results are in line with the hypothesis that flavonoid intake in some circumstances may be involved in the cancer process, resulting in lowered risks.
The relation between the intake of retinoids, carotenoids, vitamin E, vitamin C, and selenium and the subsequent risk of lung cancer was studied among 4,538 initially cancer-free Finnish men aged 20-69 years. During a follow-up of 20 years beginning in 1966-1972, 117 lung cancer cases were diagnosed. Inverse gradients were observed between the intake of carotenoids, vitamin E, and vitamin C and the incidence of lung cancer among nonsmokers, for whom the age-adjusted relative risks of lung cancer in the lowest tertile of intake compared with that in the highest tertile were 2.5 (p value for trend = 0.04), 3.1 (p = 0.12), and 3.1 (p less than 0.01) for the three intakes, respectively. Adjustment for various potential confounding factors did not materially alter the results, and the associations did not seem to be due to preclinical cancer. In the total cohort, there was an inverse association between intake of margarine and fruits and risk of lung cancer. The relative risk of lung cancer for the lowest compared with the highest tertile of margarine intake was 4.0 (p less than 0.001), and that for fruits was 1.8 (p = 0.01). These associations persisted after adjustment for the micronutrient intakes and were stronger among nonsmokers. The results suggest that carotenoids, vitamin E, and vitamin C may be protective against lung cancer among nonsmokers. Food sources rich in these micronutrients may also have other constituents with independent protective effects against lung cancer.
Comment In: Am J Epidemiol. 1992 Nov 1;136(9):1167-9; author reply 1169-701462977
Few studies exist on the validity of food frequency questionnaires (FFQs) administered to elderly people. The aim of this study was to assess the validity of a short FFQ on present dietary intake, developed specially for the AGES-Reykjavik Study, which includes 5,764 elderly individuals. Assessing the validity of FFQs is essential before they are used in studies on diet-related disease risk and health outcomes.
128 healthy elderly participants (74 y ± 5.7; 58.6% female) answered the AGES-FFQ, and subsequently filled out a 3-day weighed food record. Validity of the AGES-FFQ was assessed by comparing its answers to the dietary data obtained from the weighed food records, using Spearman's rank correlation, Chi-Square/Kendall's tau, and a Jonckheere-Terpstra test for trend.
For men a correlation = 0.4 was found for potatoes, fresh fruits, oatmeal/muesli, cakes/cookies, candy, dairy products, milk, pure fruit juice, cod liver oil, coffee, tea and sugar in coffee/tea (r = 0.40-0.71). A lower, but acceptable, correlation was also found for raw vegetables (r = 0.33). The highest correlation for women was found for consumption of rye bread, oatmeal/muesli, raw vegetables, candy, dairy products, milk, pure fruit juice, cod liver oil, coffee and tea (r = 0.40-0.61). An acceptable correlation was also found for fish topping/salad, fresh fruit, blood/liver sausage, whole-wheat bread, and sugar in coffee/tea (r = 0.28-0.37). Questions on meat/fish meals, cooked vegetables and soft drinks did not show a significant correlation to the reference method. Pearson Chi-Square and Kendall's tau showed similar results, as did the Jonckheere-Terpstra trend test.
A majority of the questions in the AGES-FFQ had an acceptable correlation and may be used to rank individuals according to their level of intake of several important foods/food groups. The AGES-FFQ on present diet may therefore be used to study the relationship between consumption of several specific foods/food groups and various health-related endpoints gathered in the AGES-Reykjavik Study.
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