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Halving Cancer Deaths with AICR Recommendations for Prevention

hands of older coupleEating mostly fruits, vegetables and other plant foods, staying a healthy weight and exercising are among AICR’s recommendations to reduce the risk of cancer. Now a new study suggests that healthy people who follow at least five of AICR’s Recommendations have a lower risk of dying from cancer by more than half compared to those who don’t follow any. The lower risk was seen with meeting just one recommendation, getting lower for each additional recommendation followed

The study was published in the February issue of Cancer Causes & Control.

For the study, almost 58,000 people filled out questionnaires about their diet, weight, exercise habits and other lifestyle-related factors. Participants ranged from ages 50 to 76 and were all cancer-free at the start of the study.

Study researchers focused on whether the participants met six of the ten AICR recommendations that apply to the general population. (Two AICR recommendations apply to special populations: new mothers and cancer survivors. Data was not available for two other recommendations: limiting salt intake and not using supplements for cancer protection.)

A person was categorized as meeting the recommendation if he/she met specific criteria. For example, people met the physical activity recommendation if they exercised at a moderate or vigorous level for 30 minutes or more at least five days a week, for at least seven of the past ten years. 

After almost 8 years, 1,595 people had died from cancer. Those who followed at least 5 recommendations had a 61 percent lower risk of dying from cancer during the course of the study, compared to those who followed none. The more recommendations people met the lower their risk of death. 

For each additional recommendation met, cancer mortality lowered by an average of 10 percent. This was after taking into account people’s age, smoking habits and other factors that affect cancer mortality.

The study was funded by the National Cancer Institute and the National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements.

Source: Theresa A. Hastert, Shirley A. A. Beresford, Lianne Sheppard, Emily White. Adherence to the WCRF/AICR cancer prevention recommendations and cancer-specific mortality: results from the Vitamins and Lifestyle (VITAL) Study." Cancer Causes & Control. February 2014

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