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Nutrition and Health (including climate and ecological aspects)

Validity of dietary isothiocyanate intake estimates from a food frequency questionnaire using 24 h urinary isothiocyanate excretion as an objective biomarker: the JPHC-NEXT protocol area



Isothiocyanate (ITC) is formed via the hydrolysis of glucosinolates by myrosinase, found in cruciferous vegetables. Although myrosinase is inactivated by the cooking process, no studies have incorporated the effect of cooking into the estimation of dietary ITC intake or evaluated the validity. We evaluated the validity of dietary ITC intake estimated from a food frequency questionnaire (FFQ), and urinary ITC levels using 24 h urine samples or a WFR (weighed food record), and evaluated the reproducibility of dietary ITC in two FFQs administered at an interval of 1-year.


The JPHC-NEXT Protocol Area included a total of 255 middle-aged participants across Japan. We calculated dietary ITC intake from WFR and two FFQs by assuming that cooked cruciferous vegetables contain zero ITC. Urinary ITC excretion was measured at two points during summer and winter. The validity and reproducibility of dietary ITC intake estimated by FFQ were assessed using Spearman’s correlation coefficients.


Although we observed a moderate correlation between dietary ITC intake derived from a 12-day WFR and urinary ITC excretion, notwithstanding the cooking process, the correlation between dietary ITC intake estimated by FFQ and mean urinary ITC excretion was low. However, the correlation was improved when we compared urinary ITC excretion and a 3-day WFR or FFQ collected during winter. Our FFQ showed good reproducibility.


Although seasonality is a critical factor, dietary ITC intake estimated using an FFQ showed moderate validity and reproducibility and can be used in future epidemiological studies.

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Fig. 1: Data collection sequnece in the JPHC-NEXT Protocol Area.

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This research was supported by National Cancer Research and Development Fund [23-A-31 (Toku) and 26-A-2] (since 2010), Grant-in-Aid for Cancer Research from the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare of Japan (from 1989 to 2010), and a grant from the commissioned project study, Ministry of Agriculture, Fishery and Forestry, Japan (JPJ005336).

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JY, JI, TS, RT, KN, JT, TY, MI, HI, ST designed the validation study. NM performed the analyses, prepared the tables and drafted the paper. NS supported analyses, discussions and finalizing of the paper. All authors contributed to the interpretation of the results and have read and approved the final paper.

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Correspondence to Norie Sawada.

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Mori, N., Sawada, N., Yamamoto, J. et al. Validity of dietary isothiocyanate intake estimates from a food frequency questionnaire using 24 h urinary isothiocyanate excretion as an objective biomarker: the JPHC-NEXT protocol area. Eur J Clin Nutr 76, 462–468 (2022).

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