Lifestyle factors such as use of tobacco and alcohol, diet and physical activity are closely associated with myriad chronic health conditions such as cancer, diabetes, obesity and cardiovascular disease. Scientists have found, for example, that unhealthy body weight, limited physical activity and poor diets are associated with an increased incidence of 13 cancers.
By altering hormones, lifestyle factors also can affect energy metabolism, cellular growth, steroid metabolism, inflammatory mediation, DNA repair and immune function. In addition, malnutrition increases morbidity and mortality from infectious diseases, and can increase the severity of an infection and hinder the response to treatment.
To address these conditions, researchers are using rigorous interdisciplinary and epidemiologic methods to understand the health consequences of nutrition, exercise, genetics, biomarkers, access to health services, community-based characteristics on disease rates and outcomes, epigenetics of obesity, lifestyle interventions in oncology care, breastfeeding and the impact of climate change, among other factors.