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1.  The association of pattern of lifetime alcohol use and cause of death in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) study 
Background There is limited evidence for an association between the pattern of lifetime alcohol use and cause-specific risk of death.
Methods Multivariable hazard ratios were estimated for different causes of death according to patterns of lifetime alcohol consumption using a competing risks approach: 111 953 men and 268 442 women from eight countries participating in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) study were included. Self-reported alcohol consumption at ages 20, 30, 40 or 50 years and at enrolment were used for the analysis; 26 411 deaths were observed during an average of 12.6 years of follow-up.
Results The association between lifetime alcohol use and death from cardiovascular diseases was different from the association seen for alcohol-related cancers, digestive, respiratory, external and other causes. Heavy users (>5 drinks/day for men and >2.5 drinks/day for women), regardless of time of cessation, had a 2- to 5-times higher risk of dying due to alcohol-related cancers, compared with subjects with lifetime light use (≤1 and ≤0.5 drink/week for men and women, respectively). Compared with lifetime light users, men who used <5 drinks/day throughout their lifetime had a 24% lower cardiovascular disease mortality (95% confidence interval 2-41). The risk of death from coronary heart disease was also found to be 34–46% lower among women who were moderate to occasionally heavy alcohol users compared with light users. However, this relationship was only evident among men and women who had no chronic disease at enrolment.
Conclusions Limiting alcohol use throughout life is associated with a lower risk of death, largely due to cardiovascular disease but also other causes. However, the potential health benefits of alcohol use are difficult to establish due to the possibility of selection bias and competing risks related to diseases occurring later in life.
doi:10.1093/ije/dyt154
PMCID: PMC3887563  PMID: 24415611
Prospective study; lifetime alcohol use; cause-specific mortality; EPIC
3.  Circulating Biomarkers of One-Carbon Metabolism in Relation to Renal Cell Carcinoma Incidence and Survival 
Background
The etiology of renal cell carcinoma (RCC) is only partially understood, but a metabolic component appears likely. We investigated biomarkers of one-carbon metabolism and RCC onset and survival.
Methods
The European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) recruited 385747 participants with blood samples between 1992 and 2000, and this analysis included 556 RCC case-control pairs. A subsequent replication study included 144 case-control pairs nested within the Melbourne Collaborative Cohort Study (MCCS). Plasma concentrations of vitamin B2, vitamin B6, folate, vitamin B12, methionine and homocysteine were measured in prediagnostic samples and evaluated with respect to RCC risk using conditional and unconditional logistic regression models, and to all-cause mortality in RCC cases using Cox regression models. All statistical tests were two-sided.
Results
EPIC participants with higher plasma concentrations of vitamin B6 had lower risk of RCC, the odds ratio comparing the 4th and 1st quartiles (OR4vs1) being 0.40 95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.28 to 0.57, P trend < .001. We found similar results after adjusting for potential confounders (adjusted P trend < .001). In survival analysis, the hazard ratio for all-cause mortality in RCC cases when comparing the 4th and 1st quartiles (HR4vs1) of vitamin B6 was 0.57 (95% CI = 0.37 to 0.87, P trend < .001).
Subsequent replication of these associations within the MCCS yielded very similar results for both RCC risk (OR4vs1 = 0.47, 95% CI = 0.23 to 0.99, P trend = .07) and all-cause mortality (HR4vs1 = 0.56, 95% CI = 0.27 to 1.17, P trend = .02). No association was evident for the other measured biomarkers.
Conclusion
Study participants with higher circulating concentrations of vitamin B6 had lower risk of RCC and improved survival following diagnosis in two independent cohorts.
doi:10.1093/jnci/dju327
PMCID: PMC4273895  PMID: 25376861
4.  Influence of Acanthamoeba Genotype on Clinical Course and Outcomes for Patients with Acanthamoeba Keratitis in Spain 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2014;52(4):1213-1216.
Genotype T4 is by far the most frequent genotype of Acanthamoeba keratitis (AK) and therefore has been considered the most virulent. This study included 14 cases of AK of genotype T4 and three cases of non-T4 genotype. We found that cases of non-T4 genotype had a worse response to medical therapy, greater need for surgical intervention, greater risk of extracorneal involvement, and remarkably poorer final visual outcome than those of T4 genotype, suggesting an association between Acanthamoeba virulence and genotype that requires additional case investigation.
doi:10.1128/JCM.00031-14
PMCID: PMC3993498  PMID: 24430449
5.  Evaluation of Acanthamoeba Myosin-IC as a Potential Therapeutic Target 
Members of the genus Acanthamoeba are facultative pathogens of humans, causing a sight-threatening keratitis and a fatal encephalitis. We have targeted myosin-IC by using small interfering RNA (siRNA) silencing as a therapeutic approach, since it is known that the function of this protein is vital for the amoeba. In this work, specific siRNAs against the Acanthamoeba myosin-IC gene were developed. Treated and control amoebae were cultured in growth and encystment media to evaluate the induced effects after myosin-IC gene knockdown, as we have anticipated that cyst formation may be impaired. The effects of myosin-IC gene silencing were inhibition of cyst formation, inhibition of completion of cytokinesis, inhibition of osmoregulation under osmotic stress conditions, and death of the amoebae. The finding that myosin-IC silencing caused incompletion of cytokinesis is in agreement with earlier suggestions that the protein plays a role in cell locomotion, which is necessary to pull daughter cells apart after mitosis in a process known as “traction-mediated cytokinesis”. We conclude that myosin-IC is a very promising potential drug target for the development of much-needed antiamoebal drugs and that it should be further exploited for Acanthamoeba therapy.
doi:10.1128/AAC.01199-13
PMCID: PMC4023789  PMID: 24468784
6.  CisMiner: Genome-Wide In-Silico Cis-Regulatory Module Prediction by Fuzzy Itemset Mining 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(9):e108065.
Eukaryotic gene control regions are known to be spread throughout non-coding DNA sequences which may appear distant from the gene promoter. Transcription factors are proteins that coordinately bind to these regions at transcription factor binding sites to regulate gene expression. Several tools allow to detect significant co-occurrences of closely located binding sites (cis-regulatory modules, CRMs). However, these tools present at least one of the following limitations: 1) scope limited to promoter or conserved regions of the genome; 2) do not allow to identify combinations involving more than two motifs; 3) require prior information about target motifs. In this work we present CisMiner, a novel methodology to detect putative CRMs by means of a fuzzy itemset mining approach able to operate at genome-wide scale. CisMiner allows to perform a blind search of CRMs without any prior information about target CRMs nor limitation in the number of motifs. CisMiner tackles the combinatorial complexity of genome-wide cis-regulatory module extraction using a natural representation of motif combinations as itemsets and applying the Top-Down Fuzzy Frequent- Pattern Tree algorithm to identify significant itemsets. Fuzzy technology allows CisMiner to better handle the imprecision and noise inherent to regulatory processes. Results obtained for a set of well-known binding sites in the S. cerevisiae genome show that our method yields highly reliable predictions. Furthermore, CisMiner was also applied to putative in-silico predicted transcription factor binding sites to identify significant combinations in S. cerevisiae and D. melanogaster, proving that our approach can be further applied genome-wide to more complex genomes. CisMiner is freely accesible at: http://genome2.ugr.es/cisminer. CisMiner can be queried for the results presented in this work and can also perform a customized cis-regulatory module prediction on a query set of transcription factor binding sites provided by the user.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0108065
PMCID: PMC4182448  PMID: 25268582
7.  Morphological Features and In Vitro Cytopathic Effect of Acanthamoeba griffini Trophozoites Isolated from a Clinical Case 
Light and transmission electron microscopy observations are reported on the structure and in vitro cytopathic effect of Acanthamoeba griffini trophozoites isolated from a clinical case. Live trophozoites were moderately active with a remarkable pleomorphism which changed from ovoid to quite elongated shapes. When moving, amoebae formed cytoplasmic projections such as wide lamellae and acanthopodia of diverse size and thickness which contain a significant amount of actin. Ultrastructurally, the cytoplasm showed the main organelles found in other free-living amoebae. Coincubation of trophozoites with MDCK cell monolayers resulted in a local damage to target cells after 24 h of interaction, suggesting that the cytopathic effect is contact-dependent. By transmission electron microscopy, amoebae appeared to engulf small portions of the MDCK cells; however, the cells that were not in contact with trophozoites had an unaltered morphology. When epithelial monolayers were incubated with conditioned medium for 24 h, small areas of cell injury were also observed. The phylogenetical analysis as well as the sequencing of the acquired amplified product for the DF3 region of the amoebae isolate confirmed that it belongs to genotype T3, which includes other pathogenic amoebae; besides the activity of two drugs currently used against Acanthamoeba was tested on A. griffini.
doi:10.1155/2014/256310
PMCID: PMC4173000  PMID: 25313337
8.  Mercury Exposure in Ireland: Results of the DEMOCOPHES Human Biomonitoring Study 
Background: Monitoring of human exposure to mercury is important due to its adverse health effects. This study aimed to determine the extent of mercury exposure among mothers and their children in Ireland, and to identify factors associated with elevated levels. It formed part of the Demonstration of a study to Coordinate and Perform Human Biomonitoring on a European Scale (DEMOCOPHES) pilot biomonitoring study. Methods: Hair mercury concentrations were determined from a convenience sample of 120 mother/child pairs. Mothers also completed a questionnaire. Rigorous quality assurance within DEMOCOPHES guaranteed the accuracy and international comparability of results. Results: Mercury was detected in 79.2% of the samples from mothers, and 62.5% of children’s samples. Arithmetic mean levels in mothers (0.262 µg/g hair) and children (0.149 µg /g hair) did not exceed the US EPA guidance value. Levels were significantly higher for those with higher education, and those who consumed more fish. Conclusions: The study demonstrates the benefit of human biomonitoring for assessing and comparing internal exposure levels, both on a population and an individual basis. It enables the potential harmful impact of mercury to be minimised in those highly exposed, and can therefore significantly contribute to population health.
doi:10.3390/ijerph110909760
PMCID: PMC4199048  PMID: 25233018
mercury; human biomonitoring; hair; exposure
9.  Evaluation of Human Papillomavirus Antibodies and Risk of Subsequent Head and Neck Cancer 
Journal of Clinical Oncology  2013;31(21):2708-2715.
Purpose
Human papillomavirus type 16 (HPV16) infection is causing an increasing number of oropharyngeal cancers in the United States and Europe. The aim of our study was to investigate whether HPV antibodies are associated with head and neck cancer risk when measured in prediagnostic sera.
Methods
We identified 638 participants with incident head and neck cancers (patients; 180 oral cancers, 135 oropharynx cancers, and 247 hypopharynx/larynx cancers) and 300 patients with esophageal cancers as well as 1,599 comparable controls from within the European Prospective Investigation Into Cancer and Nutrition cohort. Prediagnostic plasma samples from patients (collected, on average, 6 years before diagnosis) and control participants were analyzed for antibodies against multiple proteins of HPV16 as well as HPV6, HPV11, HPV18, HPV31, HPV33, HPV45, and HPV52. Odds ratios (ORs) of cancer and 95% CIs were calculated, adjusting for potential confounders. All-cause mortality was evaluated among patients using Cox proportional hazards regression.
Results
HPV16 E6 seropositivity was present in prediagnostic samples for 34.8% of patients with oropharyngeal cancer and 0.6% of controls (OR, 274; 95% CI, 110 to 681) but was not associated with other cancer sites. The increased risk of oropharyngeal cancer among HPV16 E6 seropositive participants was independent of time between blood collection and diagnosis and was observed more than 10 years before diagnosis. The all-cause mortality ratio among patients with oropharyngeal cancer was 0.30 (95% CI, 0.13 to 0.67), for patients who were HPV16 E6 seropositive compared with seronegative.
Conclusion
HPV16 E6 seropositivity was present more than 10 years before diagnosis of oropharyngeal cancers.
doi:10.1200/JCO.2012.47.2738
PMCID: PMC3709056  PMID: 23775966
10.  Hemochromatosis (HFE) gene mutations and risk of gastric cancer in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) study 
Carcinogenesis  2013;34(6):1244-1250.
Hereditary hemochromatosis (HH) is a strong risk factor for hepatocellular cancer, and mutations in the HFE gene associated with HH and iron overload may be related to other tumors, but no studies have been reported for gastric cancer (GC). A nested case–control study was conducted within the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC), including 365 incident gastric adenocarcinoma and 1284 controls matched by center, sex, age and date of blood collection. Genotype analysis was performed for two functional polymorphisms (C282Y/rs1800562 and H63D/rs1799945) and seven tagSNPs of the HFE genomic region. Association with all gastric adenocarcinoma, and according to anatomical localization and histological subtype, was assessed by means of the odds ratio (OR) and 95% confidence interval (CI) estimated by unconditional logistic regression adjusted for the matching variables. We observed a significant association for H63D with OR (per rare allele) of 1.32 (CI = 1.03–1.69). In subgroup analyses, the association was stronger for non-cardia anatomical subsite (OR = 1.60, CI = 1.16–2.21) and intestinal histological subtype (OR = 1.82, CI = 1.27–2.62). Among intestinal cases, two tagSNPs (rs1572982 and rs6918586) also showed a significant association that disappeared after adjustment for H63D. No association with tumors located in the cardia or with diffuse subtype was found for any of the nine SNPs analyzed. Our results suggest that H63D variant in HFE gene seems to be associated with GC risk of the non-cardia region and intestinal type, possibly due to its association with iron overload although a role for other mechanisms cannot be entirely ruled out.
doi:10.1093/carcin/bgt045
PMCID: PMC3670256  PMID: 23389292
11.  Gene-Lifestyle Interaction and Type 2 Diabetes: The EPIC InterAct Case-Cohort Study 
PLoS Medicine  2014;11(5):e1001647.
In this study, Wareham and colleagues quantified the combined effects of genetic and lifestyle factors on risk of T2D in order to inform strategies for prevention. The authors found that the relative effect of a type 2 diabetes genetic risk score is greater in younger and leaner participants, and the high absolute risk associated with obesity at any level of genetic risk highlights the importance of universal rather than targeted approaches to lifestyle intervention.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Background
Understanding of the genetic basis of type 2 diabetes (T2D) has progressed rapidly, but the interactions between common genetic variants and lifestyle risk factors have not been systematically investigated in studies with adequate statistical power. Therefore, we aimed to quantify the combined effects of genetic and lifestyle factors on risk of T2D in order to inform strategies for prevention.
Methods and Findings
The InterAct study includes 12,403 incident T2D cases and a representative sub-cohort of 16,154 individuals from a cohort of 340,234 European participants with 3.99 million person-years of follow-up. We studied the combined effects of an additive genetic T2D risk score and modifiable and non-modifiable risk factors using Prentice-weighted Cox regression and random effects meta-analysis methods. The effect of the genetic score was significantly greater in younger individuals (p for interaction  = 1.20×10−4). Relative genetic risk (per standard deviation [4.4 risk alleles]) was also larger in participants who were leaner, both in terms of body mass index (p for interaction  = 1.50×10−3) and waist circumference (p for interaction  = 7.49×10−9). Examination of absolute risks by strata showed the importance of obesity for T2D risk. The 10-y cumulative incidence of T2D rose from 0.25% to 0.89% across extreme quartiles of the genetic score in normal weight individuals, compared to 4.22% to 7.99% in obese individuals. We detected no significant interactions between the genetic score and sex, diabetes family history, physical activity, or dietary habits assessed by a Mediterranean diet score.
Conclusions
The relative effect of a T2D genetic risk score is greater in younger and leaner participants. However, this sub-group is at low absolute risk and would not be a logical target for preventive interventions. The high absolute risk associated with obesity at any level of genetic risk highlights the importance of universal rather than targeted approaches to lifestyle intervention.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Worldwide, more than 380 million people currently have diabetes, and the condition is becoming increasingly common. Diabetes is characterized by high levels of glucose (sugar) in the blood. Blood sugar levels are usually controlled by insulin, a hormone released by the pancreas after meals (digestion of food produces glucose). In people with type 2 diabetes (the commonest type of diabetes), blood sugar control fails because the fat and muscle cells that normally respond to insulin by removing excess sugar from the blood become less responsive to insulin. Type 2 diabetes can often initially be controlled with diet and exercise (lifestyle changes) and with antidiabetic drugs such as metformin and sulfonylureas, but patients may eventually need insulin injections to control their blood sugar levels. Long-term complications of diabetes, which include an increased risk of heart disease and stroke, reduce the life expectancy of people with diabetes by about ten years compared to people without diabetes.
Why Was This Study Done?
Type 2 diabetes is thought to originate from the interplay between genetic and lifestyle factors. But although rapid progress is being made in understanding the genetic basis of type 2 diabetes, it is not known whether the consequences of adverse lifestyles (for example, being overweight and/or physically inactive) differ according to an individual's underlying genetic risk of diabetes. It is important to investigate this question to inform strategies for prevention. If, for example, obese individuals with a high level of genetic risk have a higher risk of developing diabetes than obese individuals with a low level of genetic risk, then preventative strategies that target lifestyle interventions to obese individuals with a high genetic risk would be more effective than strategies that target all obese individuals. In this case-cohort study, researchers from the InterAct consortium quantify the combined effects of genetic and lifestyle factors on the risk of type 2 diabetes. A case-cohort study measures exposure to potential risk factors in a group (cohort) of people and compares the occurrence of these risk factors in people who later develop the disease with those who remain disease free.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The InterAct study involves 12,403 middle-aged individuals who developed type 2 diabetes after enrollment (incident cases) into the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) and a sub-cohort of 16,154 EPIC participants. The researchers calculated a genetic type 2 diabetes risk score for most of these individuals by determining which of 49 gene variants associated with type 2 diabetes each person carried, and collected baseline information about exposure to lifestyle risk factors for type 2 diabetes. They then used various statistical approaches to examine the combined effects of the genetic risk score and lifestyle factors on diabetes development. The effect of the genetic score was greater in younger individuals than in older individuals and greater in leaner participants than in participants with larger amounts of body fat. The absolute risk of type 2 diabetes, expressed as the ten-year cumulative incidence of type 2 diabetes (the percentage of participants who developed diabetes over a ten-year period) increased with increasing genetic score in normal weight individuals from 0.25% in people with the lowest genetic risk scores to 0.89% in those with the highest scores; in obese people, the ten-year cumulative incidence rose from 4.22% to 7.99% with increasing genetic risk score.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings show that in this middle-aged cohort, the relative association with type 2 diabetes of a genetic risk score comprised of a large number of gene variants is greatest in individuals who are younger and leaner at baseline. This finding may in part reflect the methods used to originally identify gene variants associated with type 2 diabetes, and future investigations that include other genetic variants, other lifestyle factors, and individuals living in other settings should be undertaken to confirm this finding. Importantly, however, this study shows that young, lean individuals with a high genetic risk score have a low absolute risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Thus, this sub-group of individuals is not a logical target for preventative interventions. Rather, suggest the researchers, the high absolute risk of type 2 diabetes associated with obesity at any level of genetic risk highlights the importance of universal rather than targeted approaches to lifestyle intervention.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001647.
The US National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse provides information about diabetes for patients, health-care professionals and the general public, including detailed information on diabetes prevention (in English and Spanish)
The UK National Health Service Choices website provides information for patients and carers about type 2 diabetes and about living with diabetes; it also provides people's stories about diabetes
The charity Diabetes UK provides detailed information for patients and carers in several languages, including information on healthy lifestyles for people with diabetes
The UK-based non-profit organization Healthtalkonline has interviews with people about their experiences of diabetes
The Genetic Landscape of Diabetes is published by the US National Center for Biotechnology Information
More information on the InterAct study is available
MedlinePlus provides links to further resources and advice about diabetes and diabetes prevention (in English and Spanish)
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001647
PMCID: PMC4028183  PMID: 24845081
12.  Limb-girdle muscular dystrophy 1F is caused by a microdeletion in the transportin 3 gene 
Brain  2013;136(5):1508-1517.
In 2001, we reported linkage of an autosomal dominant form of limb-girdle muscular dystrophy, limb-girdle muscular dystrophy 1F, to chromosome 7q32.1-32.2, but the identity of the mutant gene was elusive. Here, using a whole genome sequencing strategy, we identified the causative mutation of limb-girdle muscular dystrophy 1F, a heterozygous single nucleotide deletion (c.2771del) in the termination codon of transportin 3 (TNPO3). This gene is situated within the chromosomal region linked to the disease and encodes a nuclear membrane protein belonging to the importin beta family. TNPO3 transports serine/arginine-rich proteins into the nucleus, and has been identified as a key factor in the HIV-import process into the nucleus. The mutation is predicted to generate a 15-amino acid extension of the C-terminus of the protein, segregates with the clinical phenotype, and is absent in genomic sequence databases and a set of >200 control alleles. In skeletal muscle of affected individuals, expression of the mutant messenger RNA and histological abnormalities of nuclei and TNPO3 indicate altered TNPO3 function. Our results demonstrate that the TNPO3 mutation is the cause of limb-girdle muscular dystrophy 1F, expand our knowledge of the molecular basis of muscular dystrophies and bolster the importance of defects of nuclear envelope proteins as causes of inherited myopathies.
doi:10.1093/brain/awt074
PMCID: PMC3634201  PMID: 23543484
limb-girdle muscular dystrophy 1F; LGMD1F; TNPO3; transportin 3; c.2771del mutation
13.  Genetic Variation in the Vitamin D Pathway in Relation to Risk of Prostate Cancer – Results from Breast and Prostate Cancer Cohort Consortium (BPC3) 
Background
Studies suggest that vitamin D status may be associated with prostate cancer risk, although the direction and strength of this association differs between experimental and observational studies. Genome-wide association studies have identified genetic variants associated with 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25(OH)D) status. We examined prostate cancer risk in relation to SNPs in four genes shown to predict circulating levels of 25(OH)D.
Methods
SNP markers localized to each of four genes (GC, CYP24A1, CYP2R1, and DHCR7) previously associated with 25(OH)D were genotyped in 10,018 cases and 11,052 controls from the NCI Breast and Prostate Cancer Cohort Consortium. Logistic regression was used to estimate the individual and cumulative association between genetic variants and risk of overall and aggressive prostate cancer.
Results
We observed a decreased risk of aggressive prostate cancer among men with the allele in rs6013897 near CYP24A1 associated with lower serum 25(OH)D (per A allele, OR=0.86, 95%CI=0.80–0.93, p-trend=0.0002), but an increased risk for non-aggressive disease (per a allele: OR=1.10, 95%CI=1.04–1.17, p-trend=0.002). Examination of a polygenic score of the four SNPs revealed statistically significantly lower risk of aggressive prostate cancer among men with a greater number of low vitamin D alleles (OR for 6–8 vs. 0–1 alleles = 0.66, 95% CI = 0.44 – 0.98; p-trend=0.003).
Conclusions
In this large, pooled analysis, genetic variants related to lower 25(OH)D were associated with a decreased risk of aggressive prostate cancer.
Impact
Our genetic findings do not support a protective association between loci known to influence vitamin D levels and prostate cancer risk.
doi:10.1158/1055-9965.EPI-13-0007-T
PMCID: PMC3617077  PMID: 23377224
Vitamin D; prostatic neoplasms; data pooling; genes; SNPs
14.  Consumption of Dairy Products and Colorectal Cancer in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(9):e72715.
Background
Prospective studies have consistently reported lower colorectal cancer risks associated with higher intakes of total dairy products, total milk and dietary calcium. However, less is known about whether the inverse associations vary for individual dairy products with differing fat contents.
Materials and Methods
In the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC), we investigated the associations between intakes of total milk and milk subtypes (whole-fat, semi-skimmed and skimmed), yoghurt, cheese, and dietary calcium with colorectal cancer risk amongst 477,122 men and women. Dietary questionnaires were administered at baseline. Multivariable hazard ratios (HRs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were estimated using Cox proportional hazards models, adjusted for relevant confounding variables.
Results
During the mean 11 years of follow-up, 4,513 incident cases of colorectal cancer occurred. After multivariable adjustments, total milk consumption was inversely associated with colorectal cancer risk (HR per 200 g/day 0.93, 95% CI: 0.89–0.98). Similar inverse associations were observed for whole-fat (HR per 200 g/day 0.90, 95% CI: 0.82–0.99) and skimmed milk (HR per 200 g/day 0.90, 95% CI: 0.79–1.02) in the multivariable models. Inverse associations were observed for cheese and yoghurt in the categorical models; although in the linear models, these associations were non-significant. Dietary calcium was inversely associated with colorectal cancer risk (HR per 200 mg/day 0.95, 95% CI: 0.91–0.99); this association was limited to dairy sources of calcium only (HR per 200 mg/day 0.95, 95% CI: 0.91–0.99), with no association observed for non-dairy calcium sources (HR per 200 mg/day 1.00, 95% CI: 0.81–1.24).
Conclusions
Our results strengthen the evidence for a possible protective role of dairy products on colorectal cancer risk. The inverse associations we observed did not differ by the fat content of the dairy products considered.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0072715
PMCID: PMC3759377  PMID: 24023767
15.  Erratum to 
Autophagy  2012;8(7):1163.
doi:10.4161/auto.21428
PMCID: PMC3429560
Lafora disease; autophagy; glycogen metabolism; laforin; malin; neurodegeneration
16.  Inhibition of 3-Hydroxy-3-Methylglutaryl–Coenzyme A Reductase and Application of Statins as a Novel Effective Therapeutic Approach against Acanthamoeba Infections 
Acanthamoeba is an opportunistic pathogen in humans, whose infections most commonly manifest as Acanthamoeba keratitis or, more rarely, granulomatous amoebic encephalitis. Although there are many therapeutic options for the treatment of Acanthamoeba, they are generally lengthy and/or have limited efficacy. Therefore, there is a requirement for the identification, validation, and development of novel therapeutic targets against these pathogens. Recently, RNA interference (RNAi) has been widely used for these validation purposes and has proven to be a powerful tool for Acanthamoeba therapeutics. Ergosterol is one of the major sterols in the membrane of Acanthamoeba. 3-Hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl–coenzyme A (HMG-CoA) reductase is an enzyme that catalyzes the conversion of HMG-CoA to mevalonate, one of the precursors for the production of cholesterol in humans and ergosterol in plants, fungi, and protozoa. Statins are compounds which inhibit this enzyme and so are promising as chemotherapeutics. In order to validate whether this enzyme could be an interesting therapeutic target in Acanthamoeba, small interfering RNAs (siRNAs) against HMG-CoA were developed and used to evaluate the effects induced by the inhibition of Acanthamoeba HMG-CoA. It was found that HMG-CoA is a potential drug target in these pathogenic free-living amoebae, and various statins were evaluated in vitro against three clinical strains of Acanthamoeba by using a colorimetric assay, showing important activities against the tested strains. We conclude that the targeting of HMG-CoA and Acanthamoeba treatment using statins is a novel powerful treatment option against Acanthamoeba species in human disease.
doi:10.1128/AAC.01426-12
PMCID: PMC3535909  PMID: 23114753
17.  Fruit and vegetable intake and type 2 diabetes: EPIC-InterAct prospective study and meta-analysis 
European journal of clinical nutrition  2012;66(10):1082-1092.
Background/Objective
Fruit and vegetable intake (FVI) may reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes (T2D), but the epidemiological evidence is inconclusive. The aim of this study is to examine the prospective association of FVI with T2D and conduct an updated meta-analysis.
Subjects/Methods
In the EPIC-InterAct (European Prospective Investigation into Cancer-InterAct) prospective case-cohort study nested within eight European countries, a representative sample of 16 154 participants and 12 403 incident cases of T2D were identified from 340 234 individuals with 3.99 million person-years of follow-up. For the meta-analysis we identified prospective studies on FVI and T2D risk by systematic searches of MEDLINE and EMBASE until April 2011.
Results
In EPIC-InterAct, estimated FVI by dietary questionnaires varied more than two-fold between countries. In adjusted analyses the hazard ratio (95% confidence interval) comparing the highest with lowest quartile of reported intake was 0.90 (0.80-1.01) for FVI; 0.89 (0.76-1.04) for fruit, and 0.94 (0.84-1.05) for vegetables. Among FV sub-types, only root vegetables were inversely associated with diabetes 0.87 (0.77-0.99). In meta-analysis using pooled data from five studies including EPIC-InterAct, comparing the highest with lowest category for FVI was associated with a lower relative risk of diabetes (0.93 (0.87-1.00)). Fruit or vegetables separately were not associated with diabetes. Among FV sub-types, only green leafy vegetable intake (RR: 0.84 (0.74-0.94)) was inversely associated with diabetes.
Conclusions
Sub-types of vegetables, such as root vegetables or green leafy vegetables may be beneficial for the prevention of diabetes, while total FVI may exert a weaker overall effect.
doi:10.1038/ejcn.2012.85
PMCID: PMC3652306  PMID: 22854878
Fruit; vegetables; type 2 diabetes mellitus; epidemiology; meta-analysis; review
18.  Risk of type 2 diabetes according to traditional and emerging anthropometric indices in Spain, a Mediterranean country with high prevalence of obesity: results from a large-scale prospective cohort study 
Background
Obesity is a major risk factor for type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM). A proper anthropometric characterisation of T2DM risk is essential for disease prevention and clinical risk assessement.
Methods
Longitudinal study in 37 733 participants (63% women) of the Spanish EPIC (European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition) cohort without prevalent diabetes. Detailed questionnaire information was collected at baseline and anthropometric data gathered following standard procedures. A total of 2513 verified incident T2DM cases occurred after 12.1 years of mean follow-up. Multivariable Cox regression was used to calculate hazard ratios of T2DM by levels of anthropometric variables.
Results
Overall and central obesity were independently associated with T2DM risk. BMI showed the strongest association with T2DM in men whereas waist-related indices were stronger independent predictors in women. Waist-to-height ratio revealed the largest area under the ROC curve in men and women, with optimal cut-offs at 0.60 and 0.58, respectively. The most discriminative waist circumference (WC) cut-off values were 99.4 cm in men and 90.4 cm in women. Absolute risk of T2DM was higher in men than women for any combination of age, BMI and WC categories, and remained low in normal-waist women. The population risk of T2DM attributable to obesity was 17% in men and 31% in women.
Conclusions
Diabetes risk was associated with higher overall and central obesity indices even at normal BMI and WC values. The measurement of waist circumference in the clinical setting is strongly recommended for the evaluation of future T2DM risk in women.
doi:10.1186/1472-6823-13-7
PMCID: PMC3575248  PMID: 23388074
Diabetes; Anthropometry; Obesity; Abdominal obesity; Body mass index; EPIC; Spain
19.  A genome-wide association study identifies a novel susceptibility locus for renal cell carcinoma on 12p11.23 
Wu, Xifeng | Scelo, Ghislaine | Purdue, Mark P. | Rothman, Nathaniel | Johansson, Mattias | Ye, Yuanqing | Wang, Zhaoming | Zelenika, Diana | Moore, Lee E. | Wood, Christopher G. | Prokhortchouk, Egor | Gaborieau, Valerie | Jacobs, Kevin B. | Chow, Wong-Ho | Toro, Jorge R. | Zaridze, David | Lin, Jie | Lubinski, Jan | Trubicka, Joanna | Szeszenia-Dabrowska, Neonilia | Lissowska, Jolanta | Rudnai, Peter | Fabianova, Eleonora | Mates, Dana | Jinga, Viorel | Bencko, Vladimir | Slamova, Alena | Holcatova, Ivana | Navratilova, Marie | Janout, Vladimir | Boffetta, Paolo | Colt, Joanne S. | Davis, Faith G. | Schwartz, Kendra L. | Banks, Rosamonde E. | Selby, Peter J. | Harnden, Patricia | Berg, Christine D. | Hsing, Ann W. | Grubb, Robert L. | Boeing, Heiner | Vineis, Paolo | Clavel-Chapelon, Françoise | Palli, Domenico | Tumino, Rosario | Krogh, Vittorio | Panico, Salvatore | Duell, Eric J. | Quirós, José Ramón | Sanchez, Maria-José | Navarro, Carmen | Ardanaz, Eva | Dorronsoro, Miren | Khaw, Kay-Tee | Allen, Naomi E. | Bueno-de-Mesquita, H. Bas | Peeters, Petra H.M. | Trichopoulos, Dimitrios | Linseisen, Jakob | Ljungberg, Börje | Overvad, Kim | Tjønneland, Anne | Romieu, Isabelle | Riboli, Elio | Stevens, Victoria L | Thun, Michael J | Diver, W. Ryan | Gapstur, Susan M. | Pharoah, Paul D. | Easton, Douglas F. | Albanes, Demetrius | Virtamo, Jarmo | Vatten, Lars | Hveem, Kristian | Fletcher, Tony | Koppova, Kvetoslava | Cussenot, Olivier | Cancel-Tassin, Geraldine | Benhamou, Simone | Hildebrandt, Michelle A. | Pu, Xia | Foglio, Mario | Lechner, Doris | Hutchinson, Amy | Yeager, Meredith | Fraumeni, Joseph F. | Lathrop, Mark | Skryabin, Konstantin G. | McKay, James D. | Gu, Jian | Brennan, Paul | Chanock, Stephen J.
Human Molecular Genetics  2011;21(2):456-462.
Renal cell carcinoma (RCC) is the most lethal urologic cancer. Only two common susceptibility loci for RCC have been confirmed to date. To identify additional RCC common susceptibility loci, we conducted an independent genome-wide association study (GWAS). We analyzed 533 191 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) for association with RCC in 894 cases and 1516 controls of European descent recruited from MD Anderson Cancer Center in the primary scan, and validated the top 500 SNPs in silico in 3772 cases and 8505 controls of European descent involved in the only published GWAS of RCC. We identified two common variants in linkage disequilibrium, rs718314 and rs1049380 (r2 = 0.64, D ′ = 0.84), in the inositol 1,4,5-triphosphate receptor, type 2 (ITPR2) gene on 12p11.23 as novel susceptibility loci for RCC (P = 8.89 × 10−10 and P = 6.07 × 10−9, respectively, in meta-analysis) with an allelic odds ratio of 1.19 [95% confidence interval (CI): 1.13–1.26] for rs718314 and 1.18 (95% CI: 1.12–1.25) for rs1049380. It has been recently identified that rs718314 in ITPR2 is associated with waist–hip ratio (WHR) phenotype. To our knowledge, this is the first genetic locus associated with both cancer risk and WHR.
doi:10.1093/hmg/ddr479
PMCID: PMC3276284  PMID: 22010048
20.  Hepatocellular Carcinoma Risk Factors and Disease Burden in a European Cohort: A Nested Case–Control Study 
Background
To date, no attempt has been made to systematically determine the apportionment of the hepatocellular carcinoma burden in Europe or North America among established risk factors.
Methods
Using data collected from 1992 to 2006, which included 4 409 809 person-years in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and nutrition (EPIC), we identified 125 case patients with hepatocellular carcinoma, of whom 115 were matched to 229 control subjects. We calculated odds ratios (ORs) for the association of documented risk factors for hepatocellular carcinoma with incidence of this disease and estimated their importance in this European cohort.
Results
Chronic hepatitis B virus (HBV) or hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection (OR = 9.10, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 2.10 to 39.50 and OR = 13.36, 95% CI = 4.11 to 43.45, respectively), obesity (OR = 2.13, 95% CI = 1.06 to 4.29), former or current smoking (OR = 1.98, 95% CI = 0.90 to 4.39 and OR = 4.55, 95% CI = 1.90 to 10.91, respectively), and heavy alcohol intake (OR = 1.77, 95% CI = 0.73 to 4.27) were associated with hepatocellular carcinoma. Smoking contributed to almost half of all hepatocellular carcinomas (47.6%), whereas 13.2% and 20.9% were attributable to chronic HBV and HCV infection, respectively. Obesity and heavy alcohol intake contributed 16.1% and 10.2%, respectively. Almost two-thirds (65.7%, 95% CI = 50.6% to 79.3%) of hepatocellular carcinomas can be accounted for by exposure to at least one of these documented risk factors.
Conclusions
Smoking contributed to more hepatocellular carcinomas in this Europe-wide cohort than chronic HBV and HCV infections. Heavy alcohol consumption and obesity also contributed to sizeable fractions of this disease burden. These contributions may be underestimates because EPIC volunteers are likely to be more health conscious than the general population.
doi:10.1093/jnci/djr395
PMCID: PMC3216968  PMID: 22021666
21.  Social Inequalities and Mortality in Europe – Results from a Large Multi-National Cohort 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(7):e39013.
Background
Socio-economic inequalities in mortality are observed at the country level in both North America and Europe. The purpose of this work is to investigate the contribution of specific risk factors to social inequalities in cause-specific mortality using a large multi-country cohort of Europeans.
Methods
A total of 3,456,689 person/years follow-up of the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) was analysed. Educational level of subjects coming from 9 European countries was recorded as proxy for socio-economic status (SES). Cox proportional hazard model's with a step-wise inclusion of explanatory variables were used to explore the association between SES and mortality; a Relative Index of Inequality (RII) was calculated as measure of relative inequality.
Results
Total mortality among men with the highest education level is reduced by 43% compared to men with the lowest (HR 0.57, 95% C.I. 0.52–0.61); among women by 29% (HR 0.71, 95% C.I. 0.64–0.78). The risk reduction was attenuated by 7% in men and 3% in women by the introduction of smoking and to a lesser extent (2% in men and 3% in women) by introducing body mass index and additional explanatory variables (alcohol consumption, leisure physical activity, fruit and vegetable intake) (3% in men and 5% in women). Social inequalities were highly statistically significant for all causes of death examined in men. In women, social inequalities were less strong, but statistically significant for all causes of death except for cancer-related mortality and injuries.
Discussion
In this European study, substantial social inequalities in mortality among European men and women which cannot be fully explained away by accounting for known common risk factors for chronic diseases are reported.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0039013
PMCID: PMC3405077  PMID: 22848347
22.  LRP-1 and LRP-2 receptors function in the membrane neuron. Trafficking mechanisms and proteolytic processing in Alzheimer's disease 
Low density lipoprotein receptor-related protein (LRP) belongs to the low-density lipoprotein receptor family, generally recognized as cell surface endocytic receptors, which bind and internalize extracellular ligands for degradation in lysosomes. Neurons require cholesterol to function and keep the membrane rafts stable. Cholesterol uptake into the neuron is carried out by ApoE via LRPs receptors on the cell surface. In neurons the most important are LRP-1 and LRP-2, even it is thought that a causal factor in Alzheimer's disease (AD) is the malfunction of this process which cause impairment intracellular signaling as well as storage and/or release of nutrients and toxic compounds. Both receptors are multifunctional cell surface receptors that are widely expressed in several tissues including neurons and astrocytes. LRPs are constituted by an intracellular (ICD) and extracellular domain (ECD). Through its ECD, LRPs bind at least 40 different ligands ranging from lipoprotein and protease inhibitor complex to growth factors and extracellular matrix proteins. These receptors has also been shown to interact with scaffolding and signaling proteins via its ICD in a phosphorylation-dependent manner and to function as a co-receptor partnering with other cell surface or integral membrane proteins. Thus, LRPs are implicated in two major physiological processes: endocytosis and regulation of signaling pathways, which are both involved in diverse biological roles including lipid metabolism, cell growth processes, degradation of proteases, and tissue invasion. Interestingly, LRPs were also localized in neurons in different stages, suggesting that both receptors could be implicated in signal transduction during embryonic development, neuronal outgrowth or in the pathogenesis of AD.
doi:10.3389/fphys.2012.00269
PMCID: PMC3429044  PMID: 22934024
Alzheimer's disease; astrocytes; amyloid-beta; intracellular domain; LRP-1; LRP-2; megalin; central nervous system; brain; neurodegenerative diseases; neuron
23.  Sources of Pre-Analytical Variations in Yield of DNA Extracted from Blood Samples: Analysis of 50,000 DNA Samples in EPIC 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(7):e39821.
The European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and nutrition (EPIC) is a long-term, multi-centric prospective study in Europe investigating the relationships between cancer and nutrition. This study has served as a basis for a number of Genome-Wide Association Studies (GWAS) and other types of genetic analyses. Over a period of 5 years, 52,256 EPIC DNA samples have been extracted using an automated DNA extraction platform. Here we have evaluated the pre-analytical factors affecting DNA yield, including anthropometric, epidemiological and technical factors such as center of subject recruitment, age, gender, body-mass index, disease case or control status, tobacco consumption, number of aliquots of buffy coat used for DNA extraction, extraction machine or procedure, DNA quantification method, degree of haemolysis and variations in the timing of sample processing. We show that the largest significant variations in DNA yield were observed with degree of haemolysis and with center of subject recruitment. Age, gender, body-mass index, cancer case or control status and tobacco consumption also significantly impacted DNA yield. Feedback from laboratories which have analyzed DNA with different SNP genotyping technologies demonstrate that the vast majority of samples (approximately 88%) performed adequately in different types of assays. To our knowledge this study is the largest to date to evaluate the sources of pre-analytical variations in DNA extracted from peripheral leucocytes. The results provide a strong evidence-based rationale for standardized recommendations on blood collection and processing protocols for large-scale genetic studies.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0039821
PMCID: PMC3396633  PMID: 22808065
24.  Dietary Fibre Intake and Risks of Cancers of the Colon and Rectum in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(6):e39361.
Background
Earlier analyses within the EPIC study showed that dietary fibre intake was inversely associated with colorectal cancer risk, but results from some large cohort studies do not support this finding. We explored whether the association remained after longer follow-up with a near threefold increase in colorectal cancer cases, and if the association varied by gender and tumour location.
Methodology/Principal Findings
After a mean follow-up of 11.0 years, 4,517 incident cases of colorectal cancer were documented. Total, cereal, fruit, and vegetable fibre intakes were estimated from dietary questionnaires at baseline. Hazard ratios (HRs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were estimated using Cox proportional hazards models stratified by age, sex, and centre, and adjusted for total energy intake, body mass index, physical activity, smoking, education, menopausal status, hormone replacement therapy, oral contraceptive use, and intakes of alcohol, folate, red and processed meats, and calcium. After multivariable adjustments, total dietary fibre was inversely associated with colorectal cancer (HR per 10 g/day increase in fibre 0.87, 95% CI: 0.79–0.96). Similar linear associations were observed for colon and rectal cancers. The association between total dietary fibre and risk of colorectal cancer risk did not differ by age, sex, or anthropometric, lifestyle, and dietary variables. Fibre from cereals and fibre from fruit and vegetables were similarly associated with colon cancer; but for rectal cancer, the inverse association was only evident for fibre from cereals.
Conclusions/Significance
Our results strengthen the evidence for the role of high dietary fibre intake in colorectal cancer prevention.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0039361
PMCID: PMC3382210  PMID: 22761771
25.  The contribution of risk factors to the higher incidence of invasive and in situ breast cancers in women with higher levels of education in the European prospective investigation into cancer and nutrition 
American Journal of Epidemiology  2010;173(1):26-37.
This paper aims to investigate the role of known risk factors in explaining educational differences in breast cancer incidence. Analyses were based on the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition, and included 242,095 women, 433 in situ and 4,469 invasive breast cancers. Reproductive history (age at first full term pregnancy and parity), exposure to endogenous and exogenous hormones, height, and health behaviours were accounted for in the analyses. Relative indices of inequality (RII) for education were estimated using Cox regression models. Higher invasive breast cancer risk was found among women with higher education (RII=1.22: 1.09,1.37). This association was not observed among nulliparous women (RII=1.13: 0.84,1.52). Inequalities in breast cancer incidence decreased substantially after adjusting for reproductive history (RII=1.11: 0.98,1.25), most of the association being explained by age at first full term pregnancy. Each other risk factor explained a small additional part of inequalities in breast cancer incidence. Height contributed most of these factors. When all known risk factors were adjusted for, no association remained between education and invasive breast cancer risk. Inequalities in incidence were more pronounced for in situ breast cancers and remained after adjustment for all known risk factors (RII=1.61: 1.07,2.41), especially among nulliparous women.
doi:10.1093/aje/kwq319
PMCID: PMC3320860  PMID: 21084553
breast neoplasms; incidence; education; reproductive history; risk factors

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