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A Living Database on Cancer Prevention Grows Larger

stack of reportsThe latest step in AICR/WCRF’s rigorous, ongoing, and systematic process of evaluating cancer prevention research took place last week, at a meeting of scientists involved with AICR/WCRF’s Continuous Update Project (CUP). This time, the CUP panel focused on synthesizing the data on reducing the risk of pancreatic cancer, one of the most deadly forms of cancer.

A Continuous Stream of Studies

The results of this latest evaluation, scheduled for release in the coming months, will be the third report from the landmark Continuous Update Project. The CUP, which builds on AICR/WCRF’s 2007 expert report, is the largest living database on food, nutrition, physical activity and cancer risk in the world.

Developing a systematic process for the continuous update and evaluation of cancer prevention research was a major challenge and involved close collaboration with a team of internationally renowned scientists, said AICR Director of Research Susan Higginbotham.

“Having the CUP ensures that the advice we give people will always be based on a rigorous examination of the totality of the evidence. It helps to take away the confusion that people feel when they hear about a single new study,” she said.

“Having the CUP ensures that the advice we give people will always be based on a rigorous examination of the totality of the evidence.”

In the past, reviews of the research searched for all relevant studies and analyzed the findings, but studies were not continuously collected. With the CUP, however, the relevant studies keep streaming in as they are published and become part of a huge, living database, which means researchers can always look at the entire body of evidence on a cancer at any point in time.

The systematic review of the evidence is carried out by WCRF/AICR-funded scientists at Imperial College London. (The Imperial team also publishes its own findings of the evidence; see below.)

Once a month for each cancer site already begun, the scientists search online for new published prospective studies and clinical trials that meet the criteria of the CUP protocol. Currently, they are updating cancers of the breast, prostate, colorectum and pancreas. Breast cancer survivorship, then cancers of the endometrium, ovarian, bladder and kidney are scheduled to follow.

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CUP Studies Added 1980-2010
Click on the image for a larger version.

Last week’s CUP Panel meeting also worked on developing the first systematic review of the research focusing on mechanisms. The review will look at how diet and other lifestyle factors – such as dietary fiber, garlic, or physical activity – influence the processes that lead to cancer development.

Updated Findings

If you missed it, here are the key findings from the CUP on breast and colorectal cancers.

Breast Cancer: The review of research concluded that women can reduce their risk of postmenopausal breast cancer by maintaining a healthy weight, not having extra abdominal fat, being physically active, not drinking alcohol, and breastfeeding their children.

For premenopausal breast cancer, women can reduce their risk by not drinking alcohol and breastfeeding their children. For younger women, excess body fat was found to decrease risk of breast cancer but because being overweight and obese is strongly linked to increased risk for seven cancers – along with many other chronic diseases – AICR recommends all women aim to get to and stay a healthy weight.

Colorectal Cancer: The evidence that foods containing fiber protects again colorectal cancer has become stronger over the years, leading to the report to conclude the evidence is now convincing. The report also found that other ways Americans can reduce the risk of colorectal cancer include being physically active, and having diets high in calcium, garlic, and milk.

With your generous support, AICR funds reserch in diet, physical activity and weight management. Help us asvance our vital research mission with a donation, today.Being overweight, having excess belly fat, eating diets high in red and processed meat, and drinking alcohol all increase the risk of this cancer.

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