The Five Top 2013 Stories in Cancer Prevention
Approximately one third of cancer is preventable. And in 2013, the research mounted in the field of diet, weight and physical activity and cancer prevention and survivorship. There was a lot of novel research and news in the field of cancer prevetion, and plenty of healthful living strategies that stemmed from the evidence.
It was close, but we found the six stories that gained the most attention from our readers, in no particular order.
1. Cooking Broccoli to Boost Its Cancer-Fighting Compounds
One research area that piqued the most attention came from our Annual Research Conference last month, when scientists revealed that steaming your broccoli for three to four minutes until it turns a bright green is the best way to cook broccoli to enhance its cancer-fighting compounds. Broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables are a top source of sulforaphane, a phytochemical (naturally occurring plant compound) that has shown strong cancer-preventive actions in lab studies. The enzyme myrosinase in broccoli is needed for sufulforaphane to form.
A study that compared boiling, microwaving, and steaming found that steaming broccoli for up to five minutes was the best way to retain its myrosinase. Boiling and microwaving broccoli for one minute or less destroyed the majority of the enzyme.
Read more about the research and sources of myrosinase on our AICR Blog.
2. New Analysis: 3 of 5 cases of endometrial cancers are preventable
AICR/WCRF latest Continuous Update Project (CUP) report found that staying a healthy weight and being physically active are steps women can take to reduce the risk of endometrial cancer. The new evidence also concluded that drinking coffee – both decaffeinated and caffeinated – reduces the risk of endometrial cancer a modest amount. A high-glycemic-load diet (a diet high in sugary foods, sugary drinks and processed foods high in carbohydrates) increases risk.
Based on the new analysis, AICR now estimates that 59 percent of endometrial cancers -- about 29,500 cases every year -- could be prevented in the United States if women were active for at least 30 minutes a day and maintained a healthy body weight (between 18.5 and 25 BMI). The CUP, published in September, analyzes the latest research from around the world.
3. Taking the Challenge to Lose Weight
This year, AICR launched our first online program for weight loss and it quickly became one of our most popular areas of the website. The New American Plate Challenge is a 12-week program aimed to help you eat healthier and be more active -- two important steps to reducing your cancer risk. So far, approximately 3,500 people have participated, tracking their progress, sharing their stories, and taking small steps to lose weight and reduce their risk.
The NAP challenge starts up again in January. You can read more about it the weekly challenges and sign-up here.
4. Obesity and Cancer: Who Knew? (Half)
Perhaps because the figures are so surprising, but people were drawn to AICR's Cancer Risk Awareness Survey, released at the beginning of the year, which found that less than half of Americans realize obesity is a cause of cancer. Obesity is a cause of seven cancers, including post-menopausal breast, colorectal, and pancreatic. The survey, found that only 48 percent of Americans are aware that obesity links to increased cancer risk, a drop from 51 percent in the previous survey, conducted in 2009.
Overall, Americans are less aware that they can protect themselves against cancer than they were four years previous. There were drops in awareness related to how inactivity, diet, and alcohol intake link to cancer risk. Overall, AICR estimates that excess body fat is a cause of approximately 117,000 cases of cancer each year. Healthier lifestyles could cut US cancer incidence by one-third, translating to almost 400,000 cases every year.
- Read more about the findings of the Cancer Risk Awareness Survey.
- Here's our inforgraphic on What You Need to Know about Obesity and Cancer.
5. AICR's Recommendations Prolong Lives, Help Survivors
Our Ten Recommendations for Cancer Prevention are always well-visited but people begain talking about them this year a lot more. The recommendations were developed to give you practical guidance to lower your cancer risk; they draw from AICR/WCRF’s rigorous, comprehensive expert report and its continuous updates.
This year, new research has shown that following AICR’s recommendations cuts cancer risk, prevents cancer recurrence, and protects against other chronic diseases as well. A study published in May, for example, found that breast cancer survivors who followed at least six of AICR’s recommendations had a 33 percent reduced risk of dying during those years compared to the women who followed four or fewer recommendations.