Statistical Aspects of the Use of Biomarkers in Nutritional Epidemiology Research.


Few strong and consistent associations have arisen from observational studies of dietary consumption in relation to chronic disease risk. Measurement error in self-reported dietary assessment may be obscuring many such associations. Attempts to correct for measurement error have mostly used a second self-report assessment in a subset of a study cohort to calibrate the self-report assessment used throughout the cohort, under the dubious assumption of uncorrelated measurement errors between the two assessments. The use, instead, of objective biomarkers of nutrient consumption to produce calibrated consumption estimates provides a promising approach to enhance study reliability. As summarized here, we have recently applied this nutrient biomarker approach to examine energy, protein, and percent of energy from protein, in relation to disease incidence in Women's Health Initiative cohorts, and find strong associations that are not evident without biomarker calibration. A major bottleneck for the broader use of a biomarker-calibration approach is the rather few nutrients for which a suitable biomarker has been developed. Some methodologic approaches to the development of additional pertinent biomarkers, including the possible use of a respiratory quotient from indirect calorimetry for macronutrient biomarker development, and the potential of human feeding studies for the evaluation of a range of urine- and blood-based potential biomarkers, will briefly be described.

  • Beresford SA
  • Huang Y
  • Lampe JW
  • Neuhouser ML
  • Prentice RL
  • Tinker LF
Pub Med ID
Appears In
Stat Biosci, 2009, 1 (1)