Nutrition and Cancer

Comparing recommendations for cancer prevention in Europe with traditional food and life-style patterns in Guatemala shows a potential role model function of traditional Guatemalan food pattern.


To compare recommendations for cancer prevention in Europe with traditional food and life-style patterns in Guatemala and to judge their potential role model function for cancer prevention in developed countries.

Project Team

O Bermúdez, NW Solomons


Quetzaltenango, Guatemala


Data collection completed


The Hildegard Grunow Foundation supports investigations regarding nutritional habits, water consumption and calory intake in third world countries. Objective of these studies is to gather basic information for a future improvement of the diet. In this context diverse key aspects have emerged.

One focus is the question, to what extent particular diets are in accordance with the recommendations of the World Cancer Research Fund and of the American Institute for Cancer.  For this purpose we assessed the fraction of vegetarian food consumed for lunch and dinner by use of a self-developed pictorial register for normative enquiries in school children. This permitted to test the concordance of diets with individual guidelines components in different socioeconomic strata.


When results were compared to corresponding data from Mexico, Scotland and Holland, it may not come as a surprise that the level of concordance was inversely correlated to the economic situation in the different countries and economic strata. Thus, e.g. vegetarian food components were most frequent in the poorest strata and more frequent in Guatemala > Mexico > Scotland > Holland, which, on a group level, showing the highest concordance with cancer prevention goals. This approach looks for “positive deviance”, i.e. for examples of a fare which is actually consumed in a population and can, thus, serve as an example for a feasible dietary pattern for cancer prevention.

Corresponding publications

Click for complete reference

N21: Agreement between dietary and lifestyle guidelines for cancer prevention in population samples of Europeans and Mesoamericans N15: Concordance with selected population recommendations for cancer prevention among third- and fourth-grade schoolchildren in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala N14: Practical limitations to a positive deviance approach for identifying dietary patterns compatible with the reduction of cancer risk N13: Concordance with dietary lifestyle population goals for cancer prevention in Dutch, Scottish, Mexican, and Guatemalan population samples N03: The positive deviance approach can be used to create culturally appropriate eating guides compatible with reduced cancer risk N02: Concordance with the New American Plate guidelines of the American Institute for Cancer Research in Guatemalan children N01: Evaluating concordance with the 1997 World Cancer Research Fund/ American Institute of Cancer Research cancer prevention guidelines: challenges for the research community