Spatial Analysis of Breast Cancer Incidence, Dietary Patterns, and Diet Cost in the UK

Faculty of Medicine and Health Graduate School, University of Leeds

Supervisors: Professor J Cade, Dr K Edwards and Dr C Hulme

Breast cancer is one of the more frequent cancers in developed countries (Stewart & Kleihues, 2003). The burden of cancer can most effectively be reduced by implementing lifestyle and environmental changes to prevent the disease, rather than through treatment reducing mortality (Danaei et al, 2005). Up to 30% of human cancers are probably related to diet and nutrition (Key et al, 2002).

Energy dense diets are associated with lower diet quality and lower costs, and vice versa (Drewnoski et al, 2007). Research shows that low income households are associated with a high energy dense diet (Mendoza et al, 2006). Thus there may be an association between diet cost and breast cancer risk. UK studies have shown that there is a comparable rise in incidence of breast cancer across all socio-economic groups, thus retaining the disparity between affluent and deprived (Brown et al, 2007; Rowan, 2007).

Accordingly the objectives of this study are as follows:

  • Describe, measure and map breast cancer incidence across England, using national cancer registry data and, separately, data from the UK Women’s Cohort study.
  • Describe, measure and map geographical variations in diet and nutrition, and dietary patterns, in England using data from the UK Women’s Cohort study.
  • Analyse the geographical relationship between breast cancer and diet, adjusting for potentially confounding factors.
  • Calculate the cost of diet for each cohort member and thus the cost of each spatial dietary pattern.
  • Examine the relationship between nutrient consumption, food intake and diet cost.
  • Assess relationship between diet cost and breast cancer risk in England.
  • This project will combine medical, social, and economic criteria to determine classifications of dietary patterns and diet cost, thus strengthening the existing evidence base. Data will be used from the UK Women’s Cohort Study (Cade et al, 2004). A novel aspect of data available from this study is an estimated cost of the diet. This is not available on any other similar UK Cohort.

    Funding Notes
    Applications are invited for a 3 year PhD Studentship commencing September/October 2010. The Studentship will attract an annual tax free stipend of £13.590 and tuition fees. Open to UK students and EU students meeting the ESRC residency criteria (available on the ESRC website).

    Interested applicants should hold a minimum of a relevant UK honours degree at 2.1 level or equivalent. Informal enquries – Dr Kimberley Edwards (telephone: 0113 343 8914 or email:

    To apply for this studentship applicants should submit; personal statement, CV (including details of two academic referees) and degree transcripts to Dr Kimberley Edwards (email:


    • Brown SBF, Hole DJ, Cooke TG (2007). Breast cancer incidence trends in deprived and affluent Scottish women. Breast Cancer Research & Treatment 103(2): 233-8.
    • Cade JE, Burley VJ, Greenwood DC (2004). The UK Women’s Cohort Study: comparison of vegetarians, fish-eaters and meat-eaters. Public Health Nutr 7: 871–8
    • Danaei G, Vander Hoorn S, Lopez AD, Murray CJL, Ezzati M, the Comparative Risk Assessment collaborating group (cancers) (2005). Causes of cancer in the world: comparative risk assessment of nine behavioural and environmental risk factors. The Lancet, 366: 1784
    • Drewnowski A, Monsivais P, Maillot M, Darmon N (2007). Low-energy-density diets are associated with higher diet quality and higher diet costs in French adults. Journal of the American Dietetic Association 107(6): 1028-32.
    • Key T, Allen N, Spencer E, Travis R (2002). The effect of diet on risk of cancer. The Lancet, 360 (9336): 861-868
    • Mendoza JA, Drewnowski A, Cheadle A, Christakis DA (2006). Dietary energy density is associated with selected predictors of obesity in U.S. Children. Journal of Nutrition 136(5): 1318-22.
    • Rowan S, for the Office of National Statistics (2007). Trends in cancer incidence by deprivation, England and Wales, 1990–2002. Health Statistics Quarterly 36
    • Stewart BW & Kleihues P (Eds) (2003). WHO: World Cancer Report. IARC Press. Lyon

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