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Top 2013 Cancer Prevention Research Stories

sphere with 2013/2014From heart health to diet research, 2013 was packed with key research findings related to cancer prevention. Here's our top ten research stories, in no particular order, on how diet, physical activity and a healthy weight link to cancer risk and survivorship.

1. Americans Unaware of Obesity-Cancer Link

Overweight and obesity is a cause of 117,000 US cases of cancer each year. Yet a 2013 AICR survey found that less than half of Americans – 48 percent – are aware that overweight and obesity link to higher cancer risk. That’s a drop in awareness from its 2009 high of 51 percent, and represents the first time awareness of this major cancer risk has dropped since the survey began in 2001.

2. Following AICR Recommendations Lengthens Lives, Helps Survivors

A series of research studies published this year found that AICR Recommendations for Cancer Preventions offer benefits beyond, and in addition to, cancer prevention. One study, for example, published in April, found that following at least six of AICR’s recommendations cut risk of premature death from all diseases by about one-third when compared to those who adhered to the fewest of the recommendations

3. New Report: Weight, Activity, Diet and Coffee Link to Endometrial Cancer Risk

stacked green coffee cups and saucers with coffeebeansThree out of every five new cases of endometrial cancer in the United States could be prevented if women were physically active and a healthy weight, according to the latest AICR Continuous Update Project report on endometrial cancer, which analyzed the latest research from around the world. The new evidence also found that drinking coffee – both decaffeinated and caffeinated – can reduce the risk of endometrial cancer: high-glycemic-load diet (a diet high in sugary foods, sugary drinks and processed foods high in carbohydrates) increases risk.

4. Foods that Fight Cancer: Coffee

For the first time, AICR found that coffee protects against a cancer (endometrial). The link was modest – a 7 percent lower risk for that first cup of coffee – but an increasing amount of research has pointed to the possible health effects of coffee. We updated the research on coffee and cancer risk, as well as tell you what's in that cup of coffee and tips for drinking/cooking with it.

5. Carotenoids and Breast Cancer Prevention

AICR expert report and its continuous updates show that foods high in carotenoids protect against cancers of the mouth, pharynx, larynx and lung. Two reviews of the research that looked at blood levels now point to the possibility that sweet potatoes, tomatoes and the many other colorful fruits and vegetables high in carotenoids may also reduce women’s risk of breast cancer.

6. Growing Numbers of Cancer Survivors

Today, there are approximately 13.7 survivors living in the United States. Thanks to improved diagnostics and treatment, along with an aging population, the number of US cancer survivors is estimated to grow to 18 million in 2022, according to a study published this year by National Cancer Institute researchers. The increasing numbers of survivors will likely mean more studies will investigate how survivors can live healthier for longer. In 2014, AICR's Continuous Update Project is scheduled to publish a report on breast cancer survivors.

7. An end to the Diet Debate?

In August, an editorial published in the Journal of the American Medical Association sparked a buzz in the health field: the authors argued that research should focus more on helping people stick to a healthy eating plan rather than focus on which diet is best. We wrote about the editorial, and the controversy on our blog.

8. Eating to Prevent Heart Disease and Cancer

Viturvian manMore people die of heart disease in this country than from any other cause – cancer ranks a close second. Can the same diet that reduces the risk of cancer also prevent heart disease? A growing understanding of heart disease is increasingly showing it can, says AICR Nutrition Advisor Karen Collins, MS, RD, CDN.

Karen, an expert on how our diet affects risk for cancer, heart disease and diabetes, talks about how AICR’s evidence-based dietary recommendations for cancer prevention compare to eating for heart health.

9. Cancer Deaths Linked to Sugary Sodas

In March, scientists presented evidence at an American Heart Association conference that sugary beverages are associated with 180,000 deaths due to chronic diseases in adults worldwide every year. For cancer alone, the researchers said that sugar-sweetened beverages contributes worldwide to 6,000 cancer deaths. AICR finds that sugary drinks link to overweight and obesity, which is a cause of seven cancers,

10. Cooking Your Broccoli to Boost Cancer-Fighting Compounds

broccoli on stoveSteaming your broccoli for three to four minutes until it turns a bright green will enhance its cancer-fighting compounds, according to new research presented at the AICR Annual Research Conference last month. Microwaving or boiling your broccoli too much and it can destroy an enzyme called myrosinase, which helps sulforaphane form. Sulforaphane is a phytochemical found in broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables that has shown strong cancer-preventive actions in lab studies.

Published on December 18, 2013

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