The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that six out of ten American adults have at least one chronic disease, including cancer, heart disease, and diabetes.  Furthermore, four out of ten American adults have at least two or more concurrent chronic diseases.  Collectively, chronic diseases account for “the leading causes of death and disability and leading drivers of the nation’s $4.1 trillion in annual health care costs.”

Lifestyle factors such as poor diet, smoking, alcohol consumption, and lack of exercise contribute greatly to the incidence of chronic disease.  In particular, according to the CDC, “most people in the United States don’t eat a healthy diet and consume too much sodium, saturated fat, and sugar, increasing their risk of chronic diseases.”

The nutrition science community is clearly interested in uncovering the links between diet and chronic disease.  Articles published in the four ASN Journals on this topic typically generate high readership and interest around the world.  The four articles summarized below, addressing various aspects of diet and chronic disease, for example, all placed within the top 5% of all research outputs scored by Altmetric.

Association of Egg Intake with Blood Lipids, Cardiovascular Disease, and Mortality in 177,000 People in 50 Countries, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, January 2020

This study is ranked number one by Altmetric among all research articles published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.  For many years, dietary guidelines have recommended limiting egg consumption as their high cholesterol content was believed to increase the risk of cardiovascular disease.  Mahshid Dehghan et al., however, reported that “in 3 large international prospective studies including ∼177,000 individuals, 12,701 deaths, and 13,658 cardiovascular disease events from 50 countries in 6 continents, we did not find significant associations between egg intake and blood lipids, mortality, or major cardiovascular disease events.”  Moreover, the authors noted, “our findings are robust and widely applicable because for both healthy individuals and patients with vascular disease, results are consistent.”  Interestingly, the authors did note that one study found that higher egg intake, defined as more than two a day, was “associated with a lower risk of myocardial infarction, but this was not observed in the other 2 studies and should therefore be viewed with considerable caution.”

Effects of Milk and Dairy Product Consumption on Type 2 Diabetes: Overview of Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses, Advances in Nutrition, May 2019

Data from epidemiological studies have shown inconsistent results regarding the association of dairy products with the risk of type 2 diabetes.  In response, Celia Alvarez-Bueno et al. examined the findings of relevant systematic reviews and meta-analyses published between 2008 and 2017 to clarify conflicting results.  Study participants ranged from 20-88 years, with follow-up duration ranging from 4 to 30 years and sample size ranging from 64,227 to 566,875 participants.  According to the authors’ findings, “our data support a dose–response association in which the risk of type 2 diabetes is decreased by each unit increase in consumption of total dairy products (200–400 g) or low-fat dairy products (200 g/d).”  On the other hand, the authors did find that the consumption of cheese had a moderate association with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes; however, the authors were “not able to differentiate among the different types of cheese, which have different fat and sodium contents; thus, more evidence is needed to reach firm conclusions about cheese consumption recommendations for type 2 diabetes.”

Cocoa Flavanol Intake and Biomarkers for Cardiometabolic Health: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials, The Journal of Nutrition, September 2016

Does the consumption of cocoa flavanols improve cardiometabolic health?  To answer that question, Xiaochen Lin et al. performed a systematic review and meta-analysis of 19 randomized controlled trials conducted in the United States, Europe, Asia, and Australia, with a total of 1,131 participants, to quantify the effect of cocoa flavanol intake on cardiometabolic biomarkers.  The amount of cocoa flavanols tested ranged from 166 to 2,110 milligrams per day.  Trial interventions lasted between 2 to 52 weeks.  The authors’ findings, suggest that “cocoa flavanol intake has favorable effects on select cardiometabolic biomarkers among adults.”  For example, cocoa flavanol intake significantly lowered triglycerides and increased HDL cholesterol concentrations compared with a placebo.  “These findings,” according to the authors, “support the need for large long-term randomized controlled trials to assess whether cocoa flavanol intake reduces the risk of diabetes and cardiovascular events.”

Usual Consumption of Specific Dairy Foods Is Associated with Breast Cancer in the Roswell Park Cancer Institute Data Bank and BioRepository, Current Developments in Nutrition, February 2017

ASN member Susan E. McCann et al. examined the associations between the types and quantity of dairy foods consumed and breast cancer in women.  Clearly a topic of great interest, this study is ranked number one by Altmetric among all research articles published in Current Developments in Nutrition.  To conduct their research, the authors worked with data collected from 1,941 women diagnosed with breast cancer who participated in the Roswell Park Cancer Institute Data Bank and BioRepository between 2003 and 2014, comparing their results to 1,237 control participants with no reported history of cancer.  Overall, the authors found that “specific dairy foods may contribute to breast cancer risk in women, although the risk varies by source of dairy.”  For example, higher intakes of yogurt were associated with reduced risk of breast cancer; however, higher intakes of American, cheddar, and cream cheeses were associated with a marginally significant increased risk.  The authors believe that “future studies are warranted to confirm the protective potential of yogurt in this type of cancer.”

If you are conducting research that sheds new light on the relationship between diet and chronic disease, please consider submitting your original research findings or scientific review to an ASN Journal for publication.  The recently released 2021 Journal Impact Factors clearly show that our commitment to publishing the highest quality research has garnered the respect of the global nutrition science community.