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Updating the Links to Cancer Prevention

Last month's report on preventing endometrial cancer was the latest finding in a continuous analysis of the evidence on how diet, physical activity and weight link to cancer risk. Here's what's coming next.

Evaluating mechanisms

The strength of the 2007 report and its continuous updates lies in its systematic review of the evidence. In the first undertaking of its kind, AICR/WCRF is now developing a process to review the mechanistic research, in relation to food, nutrition, physical activity, body fatness and the development and progression of different cancers.

The findings will help inform both future research and cancer prevention recommendations, says Rachel Thompson, PhD, WCRF's Science Program Manager who manages the Continuous Update Project.

"This is exciting," says Thompson. "It's the first undertaking to develop and use a systematic approach to reviewing mechanisms for cancer prevention and progression."

Timeline of AICR/WCRF CUP reports

The possible ways in which different foods, body fat, and activity play a role in cancer prevention are varied. Mechanisms include factors related to inflammatory response, antioxidant activity, changes in gut bacteria and regulating hormone levels.

The project launched last year when a group of leading experts began developing the methodology. Details of the Mechanisms Protocol Development Group are on the Continuous Update Project site. Next month at AICR's annual research conference, some of these experts will present information and insights about the challenges of reviewing mechanism studies for cancer prevention.

Future Updates

Today, AICR/WCRF has published four updates of the 2007 report, Food, Nutrition, Physical Activity, and the Prevention of Cancer: a Global Perspective. Cancer site by site, AICR/WCRF will systematically collect and analyze the evidence. (See timeline.) A report on how diet, activity and weight factors may help breast cancer survivors is being added, due for publication next year. In 2017, when all the cancer sites are completed, AICR/WCRF experts plans to analyze the body of evidence to update the ten recommendations for cancer prevention.

The report published thus far and key findings of each, include:

  • CUP: Preventing Breast Cancer – body fatness increases the risk for postmenopausal breast cancer and physical activity protects against it
  • CUP: Preventing Colorectal Cancer – The report upgraded their judgment of the evidence linking dietary fiber to protect against colorectal cancer from probable to the convincing.
  • CUP: Preventing Pancreatic Cancer – excess body fat increases risk for pancreatic cancer has grown stronger, and remains convincing
  • CUP: Preventing Endometrial Cancer – While body fat was shown as one of the strongest factors that increases risk for this cancer, the report concluded for the first time that coffee protects against it.

Read the complete findings and more about each report on The Continuous Update Project.

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