Research Groups

Nutrition and Metabolism - Nutritional Epidemiology Group


Diet and Nutrition are important cancer risk factors in the developed and developing world, although the role of specific nutritional factors and their mechanisms of action remain poorly understood. Overweight and obesity represent a global epidemic contributing to a number of common chronic diseases, including cancer. Concurrently, physical inactivity and energy imbalance are increasingly recognized as important determinants of cancer risk. In low- and middle-income countries the incidence of chronic disease is increasing rapidly but the role of diet is far less studied. In addition, although fetal life and early infancy appear to have a major influence on health in later years, the role of nutrition during pregnancy on later cancer risk is poorly understood.

Both large epidemiological (cohort and case-control) and clinical intervention studies on humans are needed to improve the understanding of complex mechanisms whereby foods, nutrients and energy balance may impact cancer causation, development and survival. Through the utilisation of biomarkers and metabolomics, cellular, biochemical and physiological changes resulting from specific dietary intakes, physical activity and other lifestyle factors can be identified in human intervention studies and applied to large epidemiological studies.

Breast cancer is the first cancer among women and a large burden is beared by women in low to middle income countries because of increasing incidence and poor access to adequate treatment. Therefore a major focus of the section is to evaluate the risk factors of breast cancer, in particular premenopausal breast cancer, in these countries in relation to specific subtypes of cancers.