Plant-based diets and cancer risk
Diets rich in plant foods, such as fruit, vegetables and whole grains, have been associated with lower cancer risk, while red and processed meat intakes increase colorectal cancer risk and may increase risk of other cancer sites. However, evidence on plant-based dietary patterns and risk of individual cancer sites remains unclear, and more research is also needed to determine possible biological mechanisms. Moreover, there is a need to address differences in plant-based diets in different parts of the world and how these differences may affect cancer risk.
This project will give the student an opportunity to investigate the association of plant-based diets and risk of site-specific cancers, and to explore possible metabolic, biochemical and anthropometric mechanisms behind these associations.
This is an exciting opportunity for a postgraduate student to contribute to the evidence on plant-based diets and cancer risk through epidemiological studies, working with a team with extensive experience in this topic at the Cancer Epidemiology Unit, Nuffield Department of Population Health. This DPhil project will have access to data from the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) (https://www.ceu.ox.ac.uk/research/epic-oxford), UK Biobank (https://www.ctsu.ox.ac.uk/research/uk-biobank), and the largest international collaboration on vegetarian diets and cancer (https://www.ceu.ox.ac.uk/research/health-in-vegetarians-consortium). The student will review the literature and the data available and then define a set of hypotheses to investigate through their DPhil research. The research may involve a range of methodological techniques including prospective cohort, nested case-control and cross-sectional analyses, the analysis of biomarker and questionnaire data, and the incorporation of genetic data.
RESEARCH EXPERIENCE, RESEARCH METHODS AND TRAINING
This project will provide the successful applicant with excellent training in large-scale nutritional epidemiology and the statistical analysis of prospective data. It will provide opportunities to network with other investigators both internally and with international collaborators. The student will receive training in performing epidemiological analyses (e.g. prospective analyses) and writing academic papers for peer-reviewed journals, and will work closely with a strong interdisciplinary team of researchers with expertise in nutritional, molecular and cancer epidemiology.
FIELD WORK, SECONDMENTS, INDUSTRY PLACEMENTS AND TRAINING
As this will be largely desk-based research no field work or industry placements are envisaged, however, the project allows for placements with the collaborating institutions. It is anticipated that the student will make research visits to our collaborators, including EPIC collaborators at the WHO International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), Lyon, France. The DPhil student will have access to learning material of the MSc Global Health Science and Epidemiology and training for the Medical Sciences Division including statistical analysis and thesis writing.
This project will suit someone with an interest in nutritional and cancer epidemiology. The ideal candidate will have strong quantitative skills, a background in biological sciences, nutrition or related fields, and postgraduate level training in epidemiology, statistics or public health.