Foods and diseases

Br J Prev Soc Med. 1977 Jun;31(2):71-80. doi: 10.1136/jech.31.2.71.


An examination was made of the statistical correlations between the main foodstuff and nutrient intakes and the chief causes of mortality in 20 different countries, comprising 17 in Europe, and Canada, USA, and Japan. Subsidiary examinations were made of the effects of including and excluding Japan, and of the effects of various statistical standardisation procedures. Complex food patterns were identified and related both to geographical latitude and to levels of affluence; these, in turn, were related to complex patterns of mortality. Criteria for drawing special attention to specific associations were identified, based partly on statistical significance tests and also on strength-of-association yardsticks supplied by diseases with known causes. Findings suggesting causal interpretations were: (a) alcohol intakes and cirrhosis of the liver, cancer of the mouth, and cancer of the larynx; (b) total fat intakes and multiple sclerosis, cancer of the large intestine, and cancer of the breast; and (c) beer and cancer of the rectum.

MeSH terms

  • Canada
  • Dietary Fats / adverse effects
  • Digestive System
  • Disease / etiology*
  • Ethanol / adverse effects
  • Europe
  • Feeding Behavior*
  • Humans
  • Japan
  • Liver Cirrhosis / etiology
  • Morbidity*
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • United States
  • Vascular Diseases / etiology


  • Dietary Fats
  • Ethanol