Research You May Have Missed this Summer

Cell Division

As summer vacations and travels wind to an end, here’s a recap of some highlighted research in cancer risk and survivorship you may have missed over the past few months.

1. No, Cancer Isn’t Just “Bad Luck”

A paper published earlier this year in the journal Science continues to generate wide media coverage. The paper’s matter-of-fact title, Variation in Cancer Incidence Among Tissues Can Be Explained By the Number of Stem Cell Divisions, doesn’t sound like something that would set the internet buzzing, but it sure did.

That’s because of how the paper was promoted and covered: “MOST CANCERS DUE TO BAD LUCK, NOT PREVENTABLE, STUDY FINDS” screamed one headline. But there’s a sharp disconnect between this paper’s findings and the hype surrounding it.

We wrote about this study and put it in context here.

2. Pre-Diagnosis Activity Improves Colorectal Cancer Survival

Being physically active daily is a recognized step people can take to lower the risk of colorectal cancer. Now, another study finds that for those who do get diagnosed, that brisk daily walk before diagnosis may also improve survival, regardless of tumor type.

Compared to those who walked the equivalent of less than an hour weekly, longer survival was seen in patients who were active at least 30 minutes a day five days a week.

Read more about the study.

3. Eat Healthy, Be Active: New Recommendations to prevent Diabetes

cancer diabetes Venn

A major new review of the evidence concluded that for the 86 million Americans at risk of developing type 2 diabetes, individuals can reduce their risk of this disease by participating in a program that combines both diet and physical activity. That also means lower risk for many cancers.

Reports in the past few years have found that having type 2 diabetes increases the risk of several cancers, such as liver, pancreas, endometrium, colon/rectum, breast and bladder.

Read more about the recommendations.

4. Sugary Drinks and Health Risks

The number of studies related to sugary beverages has steadily grown, with two of the latest focusing on mortality and liver disease.

Sugary sodas and other drinks lead to an estimated 184,000 deaths around the world each year, including over 6,000 from cancers alone, suggests the new analysis that quantified the effects of these drinks for the three leading causes of death.

While many health organizations – including AICR – recommend avoiding sugary drinks, this analysis highlights the powerful effect that cutting out one single part of the diet may have, independent of other healthy changes.

Here's more on this study.

The second study focused on non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), a condition that can eventually cause cirrhosis and even liver cancer. The study suggests that a daily sugary drink increases the risk for NAFLD, especially – but not only – among overweight individuals. It was published this week in The Journal of Hepatology.

Obesity and overweight are key risk risk factors for NAFLD, when there is extra fat in liver cells not caused by alcohol. AICR's latest report on liver cancer, release in March, found that obesity increases the risk of this cancer. And research currently links sugary beverages to weight gain and obesity.

Read more on this study.

5. Move, Stand at Work, New Recommendations

work and activityOffice workers should walk about and stand at least two hours over the course of the work day, building towards being up-and-about half the day (4 hours), according to one of the key recommendations by a panel of international experts.

The recommendations came in the form of a consensus statement published online in the British Journal of Sports Medicine. They were developed in response to a request by Public Health England and a UK community interest company (Active Working CIC) in response to the growing interest in making working environments more active. In this paper, sedentary is defined as time spent sitting. Standing or any movement at the office is considered light activity.

Read more about this study.

6. Fitter Middle-Aged Men at Lower Risk for Cancers, Earlier Death

Middle-aged men who are fit are at lower risk for lung and colorectal cancers compared to their unfit peers, suggests a recent study. And those fitter men who are diagnosed with cancer when older may also be at lower risk for earlier death.

The study was published in JAMA Oncology.

For the study, researchers used data from a treadmill test to categorize almost 14,000 men in three fitness levels. At the time of the test, the men were on average in their mid-40s.  The men were categorized into a fitness level between 1971 and 2009. Then the researchers used Medicare data from 1999 to 2009 to identify those men who were diagnosed with lung, prostate and colorectal cancers.

During an average 6.5 years, 1,310 of them were diagnosed with prostate cancer, 200 with lung cancer and 181 men with colorectal cancer.

Read more about the study.

7. Tea, Flavonoids, May Lower Early Mortality Risk

Assortment of leaves and brewed Teas

Older women who drank tea and ate other foods high in flavonoids had a lower risk of earlier mortality from cancer and cardiovascular disease, as well as any cause, found a recent study from Australia. The study was published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

This study adds to the research on how flavonoids impact cancer risk and morality, many of which have previously found no link. The study included approximately 1,000 randomly selected women over the age of 75. The women were part of a study related to fractures and at the start of the study in 2003, they had filled out questionnaires on what they ate.

Read more about this study.

8. Fly Study, Time of Eating Matters for Health

In an experiment on fruit flies that offers insights for us humans, the timing of when food was eaten throughout the day – not the food – made a difference on heart health and weight, altering genes related to aging and heart problems. The study was published in Science.

For the study, scientists gave one group of fruit flies access to food throughout the 24 hour-period while a second group was given food access for 12 hours of the day. All the fruit flies were given the standard diet of cornmeal.

Read more about the study.

9. Metabolic Risk Factors Also Increase Risk for Cancers

High blood pressure, weight and levels of blood sugar are among the metabolic conditions that increase the risk of several cancers, suggests a study published last month that included over half a million people. The study, published in the International Journal of Epidemiology, builds on the research linking cancer to metabolic risk factors – typically associated with diabetes or heart disease.

The study used data from nearly 565,000 middle-aged Europeans, drawn from seven population studies. The studies had collected data on five factors related to the metabolic syndrome: body mass index, blood pressure, and plasma levels of glucose, cholesterol, and triglycerides. Researchers calculated a metabolic risk score for each person.

Read more about the study.

10. Overweight Girls at Increased Colorectal Cancer Risk Decades Later

Girls who are overweight as young children and teens may face increased risk for colorectal cancer decades later, regardless of what they weigh as adults, suggests a  study published in Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers and Prevention. The study was partially funded by the American Institute for Cancer Research.

11. New Reports On Liver and Gallbladder Cancers

Obesity and cancer inforgraphicThe two most recent Continuous Update Project reports – a systematic review of the global research on diet, weight, activity and cancer risk – each strengthened the link between obesity being a cause of certain cancers.

The Gallbladder Cancer Report found strong evidence that being overweight or obese increases the risk for this cancer, reaffirming the findings of a previous report from AICR and the World Cancer Research Fund International (WCRF International), which examined many lifestyle factors and concluded that overweight and obesity increase risk.

Read more about the gallbladder report findings.

The new Liver Cancer Report found that for the first time, drinking coffee lowers risk for this cancer, a disease that is increasing in the U.S. and the second leading cause of cancer deaths worldwide. The report also found strong evidence linking body fatness to increased risk for liver cancer. This means that liver cancer now officially joins the growing list of cancers caused by overweight and obesity. Sixty-nine percent of U.S. adults are currently overweight or obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Read more about the liver report findings.

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    Published on August 18, 2015

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