Prof. Carlo La Vecchia

Main Research topics

The Department of Clinical Sciences and Community Health of the University of Milan is involved in the epidemiology of several common cancers (including cancers of the descriptive trends, including pancreas, of the breast, female genital tract, respiratory and digestive sites, prostate and urinary organs, sarcomas, lymphoid malignancies, etc.) and of cardiovascular diseases, both through a descriptive and an analytical approach. Among the activities of descriptive epidemiology are the analysis of temporal trends and geographical distribution of mortality from cancer, cardiovascular diseases, and other selected conditions, in Italy and Europe; the analysis of trends in tobacco consumption in the Italian and European populations, and the corresponding effects on incidence and mortality from lung and other tobacco-related neoplasms with specific focus on pancreatic cancer; the analysis of trend of obesity prevalence in Italy. The analytic epidemiology activities include the conduction and analysis of case-control studies, aimed at identifying and better quantifying the association between genetic factors (family history), selected lifestyle habits (diet, tobacco, alcohol, coffee, diabetes, etc.), use of exogenous hormones and exposure to various substances and the development of various forms of cancers and cardiovascular diseases. Specific focus is given to the analysis of dietary correlates of cancer and cardiovascular disease risk; quantification of health effects of tobacco smoking, alcohol consumption, coffee drinking and implications for prevention; epidemiological studies on the risk related to oral contraceptive and hormone replacement therapy use; evaluation of the impact of screening in the early diagnosis and prevention of cancer. Other activities include: the conduction of quantitative reviews and meta-analysis of published data on alcohol, coffee, aspirin and other selected data; the re-analysis of original data from epidemiological studies of cancers of the PanC4 consortium the oral cavity and pharynx, pancreas, stomach, thyroid, breast, ovary, cervix and bladder; the analysis of historical cohort studies of occupational exposures to aromatic amines, asbestos, herbicides and other known or potential carcinogens; the study of the role of infections in the etiology of atopic diseases (“Hygiene hypothesis”); and the evaluation and monitoring of human papillomavirus (HPV) in women at high risk of cervical cancer. Moreover, the Department collaborates in epidemiological and clinical studies in oncology with other Italian and European groups. In particular Professor La Vecchia is co-PI of a project of Eureopean Research Council (ERC), in collaboration with Prof Bach of the Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale (INSERM) on the analysis of postulates of the hygiene hypothesis, which ascribes a protective role to the exposure to microbial agents (direct or indirect) in the development of atopy in early childhood.

The participating group has an extensive experience in the epidemiology of cancers and other chronic conditions, particular in the conduction of case-control studies. It has published extensively in peer-reviewed journals on major risk factors for cancer, including lifestyle habits and environmental exposures. The group has adequate and documented knowledge and expertise at an epidemiological, biostatistical, and computational level. It has also technical and scientific resources to coordinate the collection of data, management and analyses of the data. It has been actively involved in other collaborative studies, both on a national and international level.

Training Programmes

The University of Milan, established in 1924, is a public teaching and research-intensive university, the only Italian among the 21 prestigious members of LERU (League of European Research Universities), and an internationally high-ranked university.

With a teaching staff of about 2.200 tenured professors and with almost 60.000 students, the University of Milan is the largest university in Lombardy, one of the most dynamic and internationally-oriented EU regions and leader in the Italian economy. The University of Milan’s Faculties offer a number of study programmes, which can be grouped into three macro-disciplinary areas: Humanities, Social Sciences and Law; Medicine and Healthcare; and Natural Sciences.

The broad range of subjects taught, which currently consists of 79 Undergraduate programmes, 57 Master programmes, 9 Single-cycle programmes, 21 Doctoral Schools, and several Advanced Vocational programmes, attracts students from Italy and the whole world.

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