Wednesday, 18 December 2019

my favourite paper of our group of 2019

I asked the gang over coffee which one of our 2019 papers you like most...
We can not agree! Variety of opinions is the spice in any group/team etc :)

I chose this one.

A paper that shows moderate drinking is good for you. A paper about Ireland, a paper about brewing.

Enjoy your Guinness/ale/lager over Christmas !
Any fermented food and drink is nutritious!

But! Remember!

Tuesday, 3 December 2019

new paper from our team

During my BSc studies in the Univ of Athens, one of my teachers was Prof Constantinos Demopoulos. He taught me Biochemistry and his lectures made me wanting to combine Food Sci with Biochemistry.
When I got my lectureship in Leeds in 1998, we started collaborating on food lipids and PAF. We published our first paper in 2000, almost 20 years ago. Since then, we worked together in many projects all PAF-related, published many papers and a couple of patents and here we are today...
40 years after Constantinos' work on PAF.

The rest is in our paper below. The interesting links on the authorship of this paper are: Alexandros was a PhD student of Constantinos and Ronan did his PhD with me... A team with a combined PAF experience of 3/4 of a century...

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Representative optic micrographs ×100 of aortic wall sections stained with hematoxylin and eosin obtained from the two rabbit experimental groups. Atherosclerotic lesions appear as foam cells between the arrows. Each tissue sample was approximately 5 µm thick. (a) Group A (atherogenic diet) and (b) group B (atherogenic diet enriched with seabream polar lipids). Reproduced with permission from Nasopoulou et al. [220].


Department of Biological Sciences, University of Limerick, V94 T9PX Limerick, Ireland
Health Research Institute (HRI), University of Limerick, V94 T9PX Limerick, Ireland
Department of Chemistry, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Panepistimioupolis, 15771 Athens, Greece
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Ferdinando Nicoletti
Molecules 2019, 24(23), 4414; (registering DOI)

In the late 1960s, Barbaro and Zvaifler described a substance that caused antigen induced histamine release from rabbit platelets producing antibodies in passive cutaneous anaphylaxis. Henson described a ‘soluble factor’ released from leukocytes that induced vasoactive amine release in platelets. Later observations by Siraganuan and Osler observed the existence of a diluted substance that had the capacity to cause platelet activation. In 1972, the term platelet-activating factor (PAF) was coined by Benveniste, Henson, and Cochrane. The structure of PAF was later elucidated by Demopoulos, Pinckard, and Hanahan in 1979. These studies introduced the research world to PAF, which is now recognised as a potent phospholipid mediator. Since its introduction to the literature, research on PAF has grown due to interest in its vital cell signalling functions and more sinisterly its role as a pro-inflammatory molecule in several chronic diseases including cardiovascular disease and cancer. As it is forty years since the structural elucidation of PAF, the aim of this review is to provide a historical account of the discovery of PAF and to provide a general overview of current and future perspectives on PAF research in physiology and pathophysiology. View Full-Text

Thursday, 28 November 2019

MSc in Nutrition and Dietetics : a healthy and tasty meal

The 2019 intake students of the course with their mentors at the background
The MSc in Human Nutrition and Dietetics commenced in UL in 2018. 
It is an interfaculty course with the School of Allied Health and the Department of Biological Sciences. The course has recently completed the CORU accreditation review process and is awaiting the outcome. The first cohort of students will graduate in July 2020. Students undertake subjects such as Food Science and Food Skills where they develop innovative food products and lead and participate in Healthy Food challenges with head chef of Limerick Clare Education Training Board.

Last Tuesday (26th Nov 2019), the students prepared a super meal, healthy and tasty ! Well done to all the students and their mentors!

The menu list was informative and inviting, the 0.0 EtOH wine was great!

Tuesday, 5 November 2019

The State of Food and Agriculture 2019

The State of Food and Agriculture 2019 was launched in Rome, Italy.

Today many are aware of the need to reduce food losses and waste.

With a specific goal on halving food waste while reducing losses, the 2030 Agenda is also quite vocal about the issue. But beside being a goal in its own right, reducing food loss and waste could help achieve a number of Sustainable Development Goals relating to food security and environmental sustainability.

How to translate this into effective action?
The State of Food and Agriculture 2019 responds to this question, providing key guidance for an effective and sustainable solution of the problem.
The report provides new estimates of the world’s food that is lost from post-harvest up to, but excluding, the retail level. It also offers a comprehensive analysis of the critical loss points in specific supply chains, providing examples on appropriate measures for an effective reduction.

Please access the digital report

Monday, 4 November 2019

Football activities (for a richer cv :-)

 Corbally United – u13 Division 1 Champions 2019

2019 was the first time the LDSL had a full league season in the same calendar year and it was a season to remember for the Corbally U13A team. The season started back in March with a promising 7 – 1 home win against Newport. This was followed by victories against Pike B (3 – 2) and Aishling C (4 – 1).

On a very windy day in April, which made it very hard to play football, we hosted a very talented Carew Park team. Little did we know at that time in April how crucial that game would prove to be in the context of the league. After going 1 down, we managed to go ahead 2 – 1, only for Carew to get an equaliser to finish in a draw (2 – 2). A very fair result on the day.

Our winning form returned with victories over Bridge Celtic (3 – 2), Caherconlish (6 – 2) and Aishling B (Walkover) but then had a major setback against Aishling B in May. After starting brutally and going 3 down in the 1st half, we showed great spirit to get it back to 3 – 2 but unfortunately couldn’t get the equaliser.

We then experienced the crazy holiday period in June where we didn’t know from 1 week to the next if we were going to be able to field a team. Miraculously, with the assistance of our younger club members, we came out of June with 4 great victories against Pike B (4 – 1), Bridge Celtic (4 – 0), Aishling C (7 -2) and finally Newport (7 -1) which was notable for a 4 goal tally from young Jamie Kelly. This put us in a great position going into the summer break, level on top of the league with Carew Park with 3 games remaining each.

We came back from the summer holidays, for our 1st game in September, away to Caherconlish, with a lot of players more familiar with a sliotar than a soccer ball. As serious league contenders at this stage and Carew Park in equally fine form, every game was a must win and you could sense the pressure on the players. The lack of match practise showed and we knew we were in for a battle when it wasn’t long before we went behind and went in at the half 1 down after missing a penalty. The second half was equally as tense but we showed our spirit to get into the lead at 2 – 1. But the advantage was to be short lived as we gave away a penalty which was powerfully blasted home by Caherconlish to leave the sides level. The determination to win came to the fore and with only a couple of minutes left, Leon Campbell got the vital score to finish 3 – 2. A definite get out of jail result to keep us in the running for the title.

A few weeks later, we hosted Bridge and ran out 4 – 2 winners to leave ourselves and Carew Park level at the top of the table with 1 game remaining. This left us with our last game of the season away to Carew Park in a very exciting winner takes all decider.

Saturday Oct 28th, 2019 – Carew Park Vs Corbally United

We had to wait a month for the league finale and it was on a lovely sunny morning at the end of October when we gathered at Carew Park’s home patch. A much nicer day for playing football than when the sides first met back in April.

The game started tightly, as was to be expected for this clash between the joint table toppers but Carew got the first break of the game when a through ball down the left wing caught out the Corbally defence and the Carew winger slid the ball wide of the on-rushing keeper to give Carew the early lead. Soon afterwards, Carew had another chance following a corner which had goal written all over it but Cian Coughlan showed his desire and chased down the ball to make a goal line clearance and keep the deficit at the minimum.

A couple of switches were badly needed if Corbally were to stay in the game and not see the league title disappear. The solid Padraig Reddan was introduced into the center of defence and Darragh Horkan switched into the striker role, with the dynamic Eoin Begley moving into midfield alongside the towering Patryk Rejkowicz and energetic Owen Burton. From this point on, Corbally seemed to get a grip on the game and really took the battle to Carew. Carew’s opportunities from that point were long range efforts which goalkeeper Eoghan Breen dealt with comfortably apart from on one occasion where he was forced to make a full stretch diving double punch save.

Despite a lot of effort, Corbally didn’t get much change out of the big Carew Park defence in the first half. Best chances coming from a long range rocket from a Rejkowicz free kick which went narrowly wide and following a corner which was cleared to the edge of the box, Burton fired a bullet of a shot goalward bound and the enthralled supporters couldn’t believe it when the Carew Park keeper pulled off a superb save to push the ball out for another corner. Corbally were happy to get in at half time and regroup with only 1 goal in it and all to play for in the second half.

The 2nd half started more promising with Leon Campbell looking very dangerous on the left wing. Jamie Kelly and Thiseas Zabetakis shared the right wing duties, linking up well with the midfielders and did a great job of nullifying any Carew Park play down their left wing. Shortly into the second half, Corbally were rewarded for their endeavour, when a through ball from Rejkowicz found Begley who had made a deep run from midfield in behind the Carew center backs. Although he was forced out to the left, he skilfully struck the ball with the inside of his left foot past the Carew keeper. This really lifted the Corbally team and the large following of supporters. Corbally continued their relentless effort, double teaming every time a Carew player gained possession, stifling any Carew play. Our defensive line of Niall O’Hanlon, Jack Hannon, Padraig Reddan and the Corbally captain Shane McLoughlin were a match for any Carew Park attacks.

Some fast pin point clearances from second half keeper Darragh Newman triggered many Corbally counter attacks and it was from one of these in the middle of the second half that a flick on from Horkan found Campbell who used his strength and speed to make a surging run and fight his way past the right back, leaving himself with a 1 on 1 with the keeper. The Corbally following couldn’t believe it when despite being tackled from behind as he was about to shoot, Campbell managed to squeeze the ball under the keeper and into the net. Unfortunately, the challenge, which resulted in a deserved yellow card for the Carew center back, saw Campbell having to be helped off injured. This really rallied the Corbally team and you could see that the defending league winners from the short 2018 season were in no mood to relinquish their title. The midfielders were all over the place with Begley assisting the defence, Rejkowicz being his usual huge presence and Burton chasing everything until his legs finally gave way and was replaced by Coughlan who continued the energetic effort.

Horkan in a solitary striker role was working his socks off and showed the type of form he had before his long injury layoff earlier in the season. Any ball played up to him, even when not favourite to win it, he managed to gain control of and hold up for the on-coming midfielders. Horkan eventually got his reward after another penetrating run from Campbell down the left was cleared to Rejkowicz in the center of the field. An intelligent quick ball from Rejkowicz found Horkan who was surprisingly left wide open at the edge of the box. There was a roar of “Offside” from the Carew contingent, but the referee was well placed, as he was level in line with the right back who had kept Horkan onside and waved play on. Horkan dutifully smashed the ball into the left corner of the goal to put Corbally 3 – 1 ahead with 10 mins to go.

Following this, Carew changed their setup and piled the pressure on the Corbally defence and a few minutes later, were awarded a free kick in a very dangerous position just outside the Corbally box. The well struck free sailed towards the Corbally net but Newman was equal to the task and caught it masterfully. Carew were encouraged by this and kept the pressure on Corbally, resulting in them scoring from a goal mouth scramble following a corner kick. 3 – 2 !!!

Rory Meade who was being rested since half time, was brought back into the side to help bolster the defence for the last few minutes. The rapturous joy that exploded from the Corbally players when the referee blew the final whistle, could be heard back in Atlunkard.

Much credit must be given to a great Carew Park team on a wonderful season and league decider who were unfortunate to meet a Corbally side who showed huge determination to narrowly come out on top. I would like to thank Carew Park for their incredible hospitality on the day, it is much appreciated.

Well done to all the Corbally players involved in this epic 2019 championship winning season. A massive team effort throughout with everybody contributing with a hero’s performance at some stage during the season in many different games whether it was goal scoring, tackling, assists or defensive duties.

Back Row : Coach – Paul Horkan, Rory Meade, Niall O’Hanlon, Owen Burton, Patryk Rejkowicz, Cian Coughlan, Darragh Horkan, Padraig Reddan, Leon Campbell, Coach – Ioannis Zabetakis.

Front Row : Eoghan Breen, Jamie Kelly, Jack Hannon, Shane McLoughlin (Captain), Darragh Newman, Eoin Begley, Thiseas Zabetakis.

Missing on the day Gearoid O’Brien.

Friday, 25 October 2019

Shape up with Greek yogurt as a post-workout snack



source : Yogurt InNutrition

Next time you head for the gym, grab a pot of Greek yogurt as a post-workout snack. You may soon be reaping benefits!

This study suggests that if you’re wanting to build muscles and become body-beautiful, then it helps to do more than just pump weights.
Choosing what to eat after a workout is essential because that’s the time when your muscles are repairing themselves and your energy levels are low. Dairy proteins (mostly casein and whey) are a great source of amino acids for rebuilding muscle.
A combination of drinking milk and resistance exercise increases strength and muscle size and leads to a leaner physique. But what about other dairy products? Can they all contribute to boosting the physical effects of exercise? Greek yogurt – a fermented dairy product – is a promising candidate and makes a convenient and nutrient-rich post-workout snack, say the authors.
Greek yogurt is made by straining regular yogurt to remove more of the whey, and it is packed with protein (mostly casein). A 175 g pot of plain Greek yogurt provides about 17 g of protein. An equivalent amount of protein is found in two glasses of milk. So, Greek yogurt provides lots of protein in a conveniently sized portion, handy especially when you’re on the move.
Like milk, Greek yogurt contains key nutrients such as calcium and phosphorus that are essential for healthy bones. But there are important differences too. Greek yogurt has a thick creamy consistency which may mean you feel fuller for longer.
And as a fermented food, Greek yogurt contains bacteria that may have additional health benefits, help to improve digestion and support immunity, say the authors.
‘Greek yogurt contains 3 to 4-fold the amount of protein as regular yogurt.’ – Bridge et al, 2019.

Assessing the effects of Greek yogurt and exercise

In this study, young men who hadn’t been training regularly, entered a combined resistance training/plyometric (jump training) programme for 3 days per week for 12 weeks.
Half of them ate fat-free, plain Greek yogurt (20 g protein/serving) three times on training days – immediately post-exercise, 1 hour post-exercise and before bed. On non-training days, they ate the yogurt twice a day – at breakfast and before bed.
The other half of the young men formed a placebo group and consumed a carbohydrate-based pudding (no protein, but the same amount of energy as Greek yogurt) at these times instead.
Strength, thickness of upper arm (biceps) and thigh (quadriceps) muscles, and body composition were measured before the start of the exercise programme and again after 12 weeks.

Greek yogurt was associated with bigger muscles

After 12 weeks on the exercise programme, both groups enjoyed a significant increase in strength and muscle thickness. But the Greek yogurt group did best – they gained significantly more strength and biceps thickness than the placebo group.
Higher protein intake in the Greek yogurt group could explain the greater gains in strength and muscle size, say the authors.

Greek yogurt was associated with a healthier body composition

Muscles is denser than fat and so it comes as no surprise that both groups put on weight after 12 weeks on the exercise programme. But when it came to shedding body fat, the men in the Greek yogurt group were once again the winners.
High-protein Greek yogurt has been associated with reduced appetite and energy intake at mealtimes. Added to that, calcium in Greek yogurt may inhibit fat production and stimulate fat breakdown in the body, say the authors.
‘…Greek Yogurt should be considered as a viable post-exercise, whole food, protein source for individuals beginning a resistance training program with the goal of increasing strength and lean mass and decreasing fat mass.’ – Bridge et al, 2019.
Find out more: read the original article
Source: Bridge A, Brown J, Snider H et al. Greek yogurt and 12 weeks of exercise training on strength, muscle thickness and body composition in lean, untrained, university-aged males. Front Nutr. 2019;6:55.

Monday, 16 September 2019

new paper from our team

our latest paper was published yesterday...

Department of Biological Sciences, University of Limerick, V94 T9PX Limerick, Ireland
Health Research Institute (HRI), University of Limerick, V94 T9PX Limerick, Ireland
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.


Marine polar lipids (PLs) have exhibited promising cardioprotection. In this study, marine by-products such as salmon heads (SHs), their brain, eyes and main optic nerves (SBEON), and head-remnants after SBEON removal (RemSH), as well as herring fillets (HFs), herring heads (HHs) and minced boarfish (MB), were evaluated as potential sustainable sources of such bioactive PLs. The antithrombotic bioactivities of PLs derived from these marine by-products were assessed for the first time in human platelets against platelet-activating factor (PAF), thrombin, collagen, and adenosine diphosphate (ADP), while their fatty acid composition was evaluated by gas chromatography–mass spectrometry (GC-MS). PLs from all marine by-products tested possess strong antithrombotic activities against aggregation of human platelets induced by all platelet agonists tested. RemSH, SBEON, HHs, HFs, and MB exhibited strong anti-PAF effects, similar to those previously reported for salmon fillets. PLs from MB had the strongest anti-collagen effects and PLs from SHs and SBEON were the most active against thrombin and ADP. PLs from HHs had similar antithrombotic effects with those from HFs in all agonists. RemSH was less active in all agonists, suggesting that SBEON is the main source of bioactive PLs in SHs. All PLs were rich in omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (ω3PUFA), such as docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic (EPA) acid, with favourable low values of the ω6/ω3 ratio. Salmon, herring, and boarfish by-products are rich sources of bioactive marine PLs with potent antithrombotic and cardioprotective properties. View Full-Text

Wednesday, 11 September 2019

Carpe Diem

First lecture yesterday to our year 1 undergraduate Food Science students at UL.
I showed them a motivating video from the film 
Dead Poets Society.
Seize the day , guys ! Make your life extraordinary!

Friday, 6 September 2019

From feta to American slices, a ranking of cheeses by healthfulness

Very exciting news! Our research got a mention in the Washington Post this week! Enjoy!

The full newspaper article is here.

Research is starting to suggest, however, that the issue may be more complex. One study published in 2018 showed dairy fats such as cheese had a neutral-to-positive effect on the heart. A 2018 review from Harvard researchers concluded there was a “null or weak inverse association between consumption of dairy products and risk of cardiovascular disease,” though it said more research was needed. A study from the Lancet medical journal found dairy products such as cheese were linked to a lower mortality risk.

Friday, 30 August 2019

On my first scientific love : furaneol

In Leeds, where I did my PhD, I was working on the biosynthesis of furanones in strawberry.
I published my first peer reviewed paper in 1996,
today, 23 years later (!), it is good to see that it is still referenced!

Levels of Furaneol in Msalais Wines: A Comprehensive Overview of Multiple Stages and Pathways of Its Formation during Msalais Winemaking

Monday, 26 August 2019

new paper from our group: Caprine milk fermentation enhances the antithrombotic properties of cheese polar lipids

Caprine milk fermentation enhances the antithrombotic properties of cheese polar lipids


The effect of fermentation on the antithrombotic properties of polar lipids in raw and pasteurised caprine milk was assessed through the production of various cheeses using the same starter culture. The total lipids (TL), total neutral lipids (TNL), and total polar lipids (TPL) were extracted from each milk and cheese and the TPL fatty acid profiles were analysed by GC–MS. It was determined that fermentation influenced the polar lipid fatty acid composition. The milk and cheese polar lipids exhibited potent antithrombotic activities with IC50 values ranging from 79 to 226 µg against platelet-activating factor (PAF) induced platelet aggregation. Finally, shotgun metagenomics determined the species-level microbial composition and functional potential of each milk and cheese. Several microbe-encoded phospholipid biosynthetic genes were identified in the most antithrombotic cheeses. Lactococcus lactis and other microbial species may play a significant role in determining the antithrombotic properties and fatty acid composition of caprine cheese polar lipids. 

© 2019 Elsevier Ltd


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the full paper is here

Wednesday, 21 August 2019

An award for one of our papers!

Inflammation, not Cholesterol, Is a Cause of Chronic Disease

Authors: Alexandros Tsoupras, Ronan Lordan and Ioannis Zabetakis

Award: The value of the Award is 700 Swiss Francs and one free publication quota

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Full information on these awards is available here.

Wednesday, 5 June 2019

Changes in plasma phospholipid fatty acid profiles over 13 years and correlates of change: European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition-Norfolk Study

Associations between changes in food groups and changes in plasma fatty acid groups from 1993–1997 to 1998–2000 (between study health checks 1 and 2): European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition-Norfolk Study. Mixed-effects linear regression models were used in the analyses. Each value represents a mean relative difference (%) in change/y in mol% of each fatty acid group, per 1-standard serving/d/y increase in food groups (*P < 0.05 and **P < 0.01). Red and blue boxes indicate positive and negative associations, respectively, of change/y in food consumption with change/y in mol% of fatty acids. Mean annual changes in mol% of each fatty acid group are presented in the top row (above the box). Serving sizes were defined as 10 g/d for margarine, liver, nuts, and seeds; as 1 g/d for vegetable oil and 10 units/wk for alcohol; and as 100 g/d for the other food groups. All the estimates were mutually adjusted for changes in food groups and baseline consumption levels of those foods, and adjusted for baseline levels of the given fatty acid and other potential confounders (see Methods text for detail). TFA, trans-fatty acids.

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this is an interesting study of changes in plasma fatty acid changes over 13 years.

Adjusted for confounders, fatty acid concentrations decreased for odd-chain SFAs (annual percentage difference in mol percentage: −0.63%), even-chain SFAs (−0.05%), n–6 PUFAs (−0.25%), and TFAs (−7.84%). In contrast, concentrations increased for marine n–3 PUFAs (1.28%) and MUFAs (0.45%), but there were no changes in very-long-chain SFAs or plant n–3 PUFA. Changes in fatty acid levels were associated with consumption of different food groups. For example, a mean 100 g/d increase in fatty fish intake was associated with a 19.3% greater annual increase in marine n–3 PUFAs.
Even-chain SFAs and TFAs declined and marine n–3 PUFAs increased over time. These changes were partially explained by changes in dietary habits, and could potentially help interpret associations of baseline fatty acid composition with future disease risk.

Monday, 20 May 2019

new paper from our group

Total, Neutral, and Polar Lipids of Brewing Ingredients, By-Products and Beer: Evaluation of Antithrombotic Activities 

Department of Biological Sciences, University of Limerick, Limerick V94 T9PX, Ireland
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Foods 2019, 8(5), 171; (registering DOI)
Received: 24 April 2019 / Revised: 14 May 2019 / Accepted: 19 May 2019 / Published: 20 May 2019 
the full text is here.

Friday, 22 February 2019

our new book

This morning, our new baby (i.e. book) arrived with the post.

The Impact of Nutrition and Statins on Cardiovascular Diseases presents a summary of the background information and published research on the role of food in inhibiting the development of cardiovascular diseases. Written from a food science, food chemistry, and food biochemistry perspective, the book provides insights on the origin of cardiovascular diseases, an analysis of statin therapy, their side effects, and the role of dietary intervention as an alternative solution to preventing cardiovascular diseases. It focuses on the efficacy of nutrition and statins to address inflammation and inhibit the onset of disease, while also providing nutrition information and suggested dietary interventions.

In the book, we write about the value of nutrition and statins on cardiovascular diseases. We have a critical stance on statins. Hope you find it of some interest.

Thursday, 7 February 2019

new paper from our team: The Potential Role of Dietary Platelet-Activating Factor Inhibitors in Cancer Prevention and Treatment

The Potential Role of Dietary Platelet-Activating Factor Inhibitors in Cancer Prevention and Treatment

Advances in Nutrition, nmy090,
Published:05 February 2019


Cancer is the second leading cause of mortality worldwide. The role of unresolved inflammation in cancer progression and metastasis is well established. Platelet-activating factor (PAF) is a key proinflammatory mediator in the initiation and progression of cancer. Evidence suggests that PAF is integral to suppression of the immune system and promotion of metastasis and tumor growth by altering local angiogenic and cytokine networks. Interactions between PAF and its receptor may have a role in various digestive, skin, and hormone-dependent cancers. Diet plays a critical role in the prevention of cancer and its treatment. Research indicates that the Mediterranean diet may reduce the incidence of several cancers in which dietary PAF inhibitors have a role. Dietary PAF inhibitors such as polar lipids have demonstrated inhibitory effects against the physiological actions of PAF in cancer and other chronic inflammatory conditions in vitro and in vivo. In addition, experimental models of radiotherapy and chemotherapy demonstrate that inhibition of PAF as adjuvant therapy may lead to more favorable outcomes. Although promising, there is limited evidence on the potential benefits of dietary PAF inhibitors on cancer prevention or treatment. Therefore, further extensive research is required to assess the effects of various dietary factors and PAF inhibitors and to elucidate the mechanisms in prevention of cancer progression and metastasis at a molecular level.