Objective: To assess the effect of different methods of classifying food use on principal components analysis (PCA)-derived dietary patterns, and the subsequent impact on estimation of cancer risk associated with the different patterns.
Methods: Dietary data were obtained from 232 endometrial cancer cases and 639 controls (Western New York Diet Study) using a 190-item semi-quantitative food-frequency questionnaire. Dietary patterns were generated using PCA and three methods of classifying food use: 168 single foods and beverages; 56 detailed food groups, foods and beverages; and 36 less-detailed groups and single food items.
Results: Classification method affected neither the number nor character of the patterns identified. However, total variance explained in food use increased as the detail included in the PCA decreased (approximately 8%, 168 items to approximately 17%, 36 items). Conversely, reduced detail in PCA tended to attenuate the odds ratio (OR) associated with the healthy patterns (OR 0.55, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.35-0.84 and OR 0.77, 95% CI 0.49-1.20, 168 and 36 items, respectively) but not the high-fat patterns (OR 0.95, 95% CI 0.57-1.58 and OR 0.85, 0.51-1.40, 168 and 36 items, respectively).
Conclusions: Greater detail in food-use information may be desirable in determination of dietary patterns for more precise estimates of disease risk.