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

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


Background/objectives: 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.

Subjects/methods: 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.

Results: 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.

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

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Cluster Analysis
  • Cohort Studies
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / etiology
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / prevention & control
  • Diet Surveys
  • Diet*
  • Diet, Fat-Restricted
  • Dietary Fiber / administration & dosage
  • Female
  • Fruit
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Proportional Hazards Models
  • Sex Factors
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Vegetables