Associations between Fatty Acid Intakes and Plasma Phospholipid Fatty Acid Concentrations in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition

Nutrients. 2023 Aug 23;15(17):3695. doi: 10.3390/nu15173695.


Background: The aim of this study is to determine the correlations between dietary fatty acid (FA) intakes and plasma phospholipid (PL) FA levels in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) cohort.

Methods: The dietary intake of 60 individual FAs was estimated using centre-specific validated dietary questionnaires. Plasma PL FA concentrations of these FAs were measured in non-fasting venous plasma samples in nested case-control studies within the EPIC cohort (n = 4923, using only non-cases). Spearman rank correlations were calculated to determine associations between FA intakes and plasma PL FA levels.

Results: Correlations between FA intakes and circulating levels were low to moderately high (-0.233 and 0.554). Moderate positive correlations were found for total long-chain n-3 poly-unsaturated FA (PUFA) (r = 0.354) with the highest (r = 0.406) for n-3 PUFA docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Moderate positive correlations were also found for the non-endogenously synthesized trans-FA (r = 0.461 for total trans-FA C16-18; r = 0.479 for industrial trans-FA (elaidic acid)).

Conclusions: Our findings indicate that dietary FA intakes might influence the plasma PL FA status to a certain extent for several specific FAs. The stronger positive correlations for health-enhancing long-chain PUFAs and the health-deteriorating trans-FA that are not endogenously produced are valuable for future cancer prevention public health interventions.

Keywords: dietary intake; fatty acids; plasma phospholipid concentrations.

MeSH terms

  • Fatty Acids
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3*
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms* / epidemiology
  • Phospholipids
  • Prospective Studies
  • Trans Fatty Acids*


  • Fatty Acids
  • Phospholipids
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3
  • Trans Fatty Acids