My special interest is the causation and prevention of cancer; in particular the impact of different types of diet on cancer risk. Living as I do in the Mediterranean region, I am aware that traditional Mediterranean diets evidently protect against some cancers, as well as cardiovascular disease and other chronic diseases. This is because such diets are rich in pulses, fresh fruits and vegetables – and hence in selected micronutrients. It is the complex composition of Mediterranean diets, rather than any single food or nutrient, that is evidently most relevant. Olive oil is the key common characteristic of diets throughout the Mediterranean region. Olive oil also evidently protects against the risk of cardiovascular disease, as well as of several cancers, particularly of the digestive tract. Polyunsaturated fats in fish have been associated with reduced risk of selected cancers and cardiovascular disease.
I also investigate the relevance of different types of carbohydrates, in relation to their fibre composition and glycaemic index and load, in the process of carcinogenesis.
To increase our understanding of the mechanisms bearing on disease causation, I have conducted extensive epidemiological research. This includes systematic analyses of cancer trends in Europe and also worldwide, in order to identify and explain major differences in cancer rates. They also include examination of the separate and combined effects of alcohol and of tobacco on carcinogenesis. Besides epidemiologic research, public health education and prevention are key aspects of all my activities.