Licia Iacoviello

Licia Iacoviello

Italy - Varese


Licia Iacoviello graduated in Medicine and specialized in Internal Medicine at the “Federico II” University of Naples, Italy and received her PhD in Genetic Epidemiology at the Univesity of Leiden, The Netherlands. She has been dedicated to research in the field of thrombosis and cardio-cerebral vascular disease, first at the Consorzio Mario Negri South of Santa Maria Imbaro, then at the Centre for Research and Training for High Technology of the Catholic University of Campobasso. Since 2013 she directs the Laboratory of Molecular and Nutritional Epidemiology, and from 2019 the Department of Epidemiology and Prevention of IRCCS Neuromed at Pozzilli (IS).

Since 2005 she is Associate Professor of Genetic Epidemiology at the University of Buffalo (NY) in the United States and since December 2016 full Professor of Hygiene and Public Health at the University of Insubria, Varese, Italy. She is presently the director of the Research Center in Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine – EPIMED and of the School of Specialization in Hygiene and Preventive Medicine at the University of Insubria and of the Center for Big data and Personalised Health, at the Polo di Ricerca e Innovazione Neurobiotech, IRCCS Neuromed of Caserta.

She has been working on the impact of genes and environment and their interaction on cardiovascular risk and on the role of dietary habits in the development of metabolic disorders, cardio-cerebrovascular disease and cancer. She developed a great experience in the organization and management of epidemiological studies such as multicenter cohort studies and in organizing clinical trials of dietary supplements and functional foods in subjects with cardiovascular risk factors

Since 2005 she is coordinating the Moli-sani Study, a large cohort study involving over 24,000 adult people aged, residents in Molise, randomly extracted from municipal registries, in order to assess risk factors related to lifestyle (notably nutrition) and genetics for chronic-degenerative and metabolic diseases and from 2018, the PLATONE Study a clinical research network for Big-data, machine Learning and personalized health.

In the last 20 years her activity has been mainly devoted to provide scientific bases to the healthy effect of the Mediterranean diet and to understand the determinants of Mediterranean diet adhesion.

She has been member of the Sub-committee for Cardiovascular Risk Prevention of the Italian Health Ministry and is presently member of the “Scientific Advisory Board”, Department of Population Health, Institute of Health of Luxemburg.

Licia Iacoviello has published over 540 scientific articles in international "peer reviewed" journals. She has been included by VIA Academy in the list of Top Italian Scientists with an Scopus H-index=75 and 31,079 citations.


- University of Insubria
- University of Buffalo
- Research Center in Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine – EPIMED
- IRCCS Istituto Neurologico Mediterraneo Neuromed

Areas of expertise

- Internal medicine
- Genetic epidemiology
- Thrombosis and cardio-cerebral vascular disease
- Hygiene and preventive medicine


Drinking, eating patterns and lifestyle habits – From scientific evidence to public acceptance

Drinking, eating patterns and lifestyle habits – From scientific evidence to public acceptance

For adults, a traditional Mediterranean Diet includes regular moderate alcohol consumption, preferably during meals, usually wine, consistent with the spirit of the ancient Greek word ‘symposium’.

The relationship between scientific evidence and public acceptance should consider three major components, that is robustness of the scientific evidence, level of understanding of the recipients and the means through which the message is delivered.

The misconception that even moderate alcohol intake is unhealthy stems from several shortcomings, including the context in which alcohol was analysed in some epidemiological studies—without considering dietary habits and drinking patterns. Other pitfalls include the classification of ethanol as a carcinogen, primarily based on experimental studies that cannot be directly extrapolated to humans, particularly when considering the importance of dosage or when accounting for the synergistic interactions between alcoholic beverages and nutrients.

Scientific evidence on the alcohol-health relationship is also generally delivered to the public by scientists/organizations who are not experts in the field, ending up with creating misinformation. The same applies to lay-press which often lacks scientific communicators.

The WHO is one of the staunchest supporters of the 'zero tolerance' policy towards alcohol, declaring as dogma that there is no safe amount that does not affect health. However, much of the evidence supporting this statement comes from observational studies, which have potential biases and limitations, as is acknowledged with strong criticism in the case of studies showing cardiovascular health benefits from moderate alcohol intake. This double standard principle also contributes to a lack of public understanding.

Furthermore, the general public may not always possess sufficient understanding of scientific methodology to actively participate in decision-making processes, such as discerning between associations and cause-and-effect relationships. Finally, benefits and risks of drinking change over a lifetime, and this should be clearly explained when dealing with the public.


  1. Trichopoulou A, Martínez-González MA, Tong TY, Forouhi NG, Khandelwal S, Prabhakaran D, Mozaffarian D, de Lorgeril M. Definitions and potential health benefits of the Mediterranean diet: views from experts around the world. BMC Med. 2014 Jul 24;12:112. doi: 10.1186/1741-7015-12-112. PMID: 25055810; PMCID: PMC4222885.

  2. Heath C, Lopez NV, Seeton V, Sutliffe JT. Blue zones-based worksite nutrition intervention: positive impact on employee wellbeing. Front Nutr. 2022;11(9):795387. https:// doi. org/ 10. 3389/ fnut. 2022. 795387.

  3. Trichopoulou A, Bamia C, Trichopoulos D. Anatomy of health effects of Mediterranean diet: Greek EPIC prospective cohort study. BMJ. 2009 Jun 23;338:b2337. doi: 10.1136/bmj.b2337. PMID: 19549997; PMCID: PMC3272659.

  4. Bonaccio M, Di Castelnuovo A, Costanzo S, Persichillo M, De Curtis A, Donati MB, de Gaetano G, Iacoviello L; MOLI-SANI study Investigators. Adherence to the traditional Mediterranean diet and mortality in subjects with diabetes. Prospective results from the MOLI-SANI study. Eur J Prev Cardiol. 2016 Mar;23(4):400-7. doi: 10.1177/2047487315569409. Epub 2015 Feb 3. PMID: 25648935.

  5. Barbería-Latasa M, Bes-Rastrollo M, Pérez-Araluce R, Martínez-González MÁ, Gea A. Mediterranean Alcohol-Drinking Patterns and All-Cause Mortality in Women More Than 55 Years Old and Men More Than 50 Years Old in the "Seguimiento Universidad de Navarra" (SUN) Cohort. Nutrients. 2022 Dec 14;14(24):5310. doi: 10.3390/nu14245310. PMID: 36558468; PMCID: PMC9788476.