Colorectal cancer (CRC) is a multi-factorial disease in which diet is believed to play a role. Little is known about the health effects of specific regional diets. The Nordic diet is high in fat and sugar but also includes a range of traditional products with anticipated health-promoting effects. The aim of this cohort study was to determine whether a healthy Nordic food index consisting of fish, cabbage, rye bread, oatmeal, apples, pears and root vegetables was related to CRC incidence. Data were obtained from a prospective cohort study of 57,053 Danish men and women aged 50-64 years, of whom 1025 developed CRC (13 years' follow-up). Incidence rate ratios (IRR) with 95 % CI were calculated from Cox proportional hazard models. Women who strongly adhered to a healthy Nordic food index had a 35 % lower incidence of CRC than women with poor adherence (adjusted IRR, 0·65; 95 % CI 0·46, 0·94); a similar tendency was found for men. Women had a 9 % lower incidence of CRC per point adherence to the healthy Nordic food index, but no significant effect was found for men. A regional diet based on healthy Nordic food items was therefore associated with a lower incidence of CRC in women. The protective effect was of the same magnitude as previously found for the Mediterranean diet, suggesting that healthy regional diets should be promoted in order to ensure health; this will also preserve cultural heredity and the environment.
British Journal of Nutrition, 2013, Vol 109, Issue 5, p. 920-7