Country-Level Relationships of the Human Intake of N and P, Animal and Vegetable Food, and Alcoholic Beverages with Cancer and Life Expectancy

Penuelas, J., Krisztin, T. ORCID:, Obersteiner, M. ORCID:, Huber, F., Winner, H., Janssens, I.A., Ciais, P., & Sardans, J. (2020). Country-Level Relationships of the Human Intake of N and P, Animal and Vegetable Food, and Alcoholic Beverages with Cancer and Life Expectancy. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 17 (19) e7240. 10.3390/ijerph17197240.

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Background: The quantity, quality, and type (e.g., animal and vegetable) of human food have been correlated with human health, although with some contradictory or neutral results. We aimed to shed light on this association by using the integrated data at country level.

Methods: We correlated elemental (nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P)) compositions and stoichiometries (N:P ratios), molecular (proteins) and energetic traits (kilocalories) of food of animal (terrestrial or aquatic) and vegetable origin, and alcoholic beverages with cancer prevalence and mortality and life expectancy (LE) at birth at the country level. We used the official databases of United Nations (UN), Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), World Bank, World Health Organization (WHO), U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Department of Health, and Eurobarometer, while also considering other possibly involved variables such as income, mean age, or human development index of each country.

Results: The per capita intakes of N, P, protein, and total intake from terrestrial animals, and especially alcohol were significantly and positively associated with prevalence and mortality from total, colon, lung, breast, and prostate cancers. In contrast, high per capita intakes of vegetable N, P, N:P, protein, and total plant intake exhibited negative relationships with cancer prevalence and mortality. However, a high LE at birth, especially in underdeveloped countries was more strongly correlated with a higher intake of food, independent of its animal or vegetable origin, than with other variables, such as higher income or the human development index.

Conclusions: Our analyses, thus, yielded four generally consistent conclusions. First, the excessive intake of terrestrial animal food, especially the levels of protein, N, and P, is associated with higher prevalence of cancer, whereas equivalent intake from vegetables is associated with lower prevalence. Second, no consistent relationship was found for food N:P ratio and cancer prevalence. Third, the consumption of alcoholic beverages correlates with prevalence and mortality by malignant neoplasms. Fourth, in underdeveloped countries, reducing famine has a greater positive impact on health and LE than a healthier diet.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: cancer; food security; kilocalories; nitrogen; phosphorus; protein intake; stoichiometry
Research Programs: Ecosystems Services and Management (ESM)
Depositing User: Luke Kirwan
Date Deposited: 08 Oct 2020 15:08
Last Modified: 27 Aug 2021 17:33

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