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For Immediate Release: August 28, 2012
Contact: Mya Nelson, m.nelson@aicr.org, 202-328-7744 x3047

Experts Reveal World’s Largest Database on Lifestyle-Cancer Links

MONTREAL (August 28) — As the number of global cases is estimated to reach 21 million over the next two decades, cancer research experts are showcasing one of the world’s largest and most comprehensive scientific projects on cancer prevention at the World Cancer Congress today.

The American Institute for Cancer Research and the World Cancer Research Fund International (AICR/WCRF) are presenting the work of the Continuous Update Project (CUP) at the Montreal meeting of the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC).

The CUP is an ongoing review of research linking various lifestyle factors to cancer risk. It captures and assesses the global evidence in a systematic and thorough way.

CUP panel member Elisa Bandera, MD, PhD, of the Cancer Institute of New Jersey, said: “The CUP is the world’s largest central database of scientific evidence on diet, physical activity, body weight and cancer. Its findings are shaping today’s health policy, and tomorrow’s research directions.”

“Worldwide cancer incidence is set to reach 21 million by 2030. We must act now to turn that tide,” she said.

Evidence-Based, Life-Saving Recommendations Emerge

So far the CUP has produced clear evidence about the risk factors for breast and colorectal cancer – two of the most common cancers in the world.

It found that a high level of red and processed meat consumption and greater body fatness increase colorectal cancer risk, while being physically active and eating a fiber-rich diet reduce it. Similarly, greater body fatness and alcohol intake increase breast cancer risk, and physical activity and breastfeeding reduce risk. These findings confirmed AICR/WCRF’s 2007 Recommendations for Cancer Prevention.

This October, AICR/WCRF will release the CUP report on pancreatic cancer.

A Huge and Ongoing Process to Update Evidence

For some cancers, there has been as much research on lifestyle factors conducted in the past seven years as was carried out over the preceding fifty. The CUP is the only project logging and analyzing these data.

A team of scientists at Imperial College, London – funded and supported by AICR/WCRF – identifies relevant research, adds the information to a central database and systematically analyzes it. To date, the CUP has added more than 2,600 papers on eight cancers – breast, prostate, colorectum, pancreas, endometrium, ovary, bladder and kidney – and is in the early stages of reviewing new research on breast cancer survivors.

An independent panel of expert scientists – the CUP panel – judges the research findings as each cancer type is updated and makes conclusions to give people advice on reducing their cancer risk. The panel also continually reviews analytic methods as the process evolves, ensuring the scientific community can be confident that the most up-to-date information is available.

A Comprehensive View of What We Know – And What We Still Need to Know

“People tend to underestimate the importance that our lifestyle choices have on determining risk of developing cancer and other chronic diseases. The CUP gives us the overall picture of the current evidence on the impact of dietary and exercise habits on cancer risk – putting together individual studies and drawing conclusions that lead to lifestyle recommendations to reduce cancer risk,” said Bandera.

The CUP is a unique and valuable resource that will be made available to researchers and scientists once all cancers have been updated, allowing them to access detailed information without needing to search and input the data themselves. The ongoing findings of the CUP also help to identify priority areas for future research.

Notes For Editors

  • AICR/WCRF International will be presenting the CUP on Tuesday, August 28 at 1:30 pm EDT.  
    Details can be found at: http://www.wcrf.org/conferences/conference.php?ID=9
  • The CUP adds to the work of the 2007 AICR/WCRF Second Expert Report, which examined research papers from the past 50 years and remains the most comprehensive report ever produced on food, nutrition, physical activity, body fatness and cancer prevention. It took six years to produce and involved 17 systematic literature reviews and over 7,000 research papers.
  • According to NCI, the federal government in 2011 spent just 6.5 percent of the US cancer research budget on cancer prevention and control – just over $330,000 out of nearly $5.1 million.
  • For further information on the CUP, see: http://www.dietandcancerreport.org/cup/index.php
  • For details of CUP panel membership, see: http://www.dietandcancerreport.org/cup/people/expert_panel.php
  • The Imperial College team is led by epidemiologist Teresa Norat
  • About 1/3 of the most common cancers in the US could be prevented through diet, physical activity and maintaining a healthy weight alone. That means that nearly 400,000 cases of cancer that occur in the US every year don’t have to happen.


The American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) is the cancer charity that fosters research on the relationship of nutrition, physical activity and weight management to cancer risk, interprets the scientific literature and educates the public about the results. It has contributed more than $95 million for innovative research conducted at universities, hospitals and research centers across the country. AICR has published two landmark reports that interpret the accumulated research in the field, and is committed to a process of continuous review. AICR also provides a wide range of educational programs to help millions of Americans learn to make dietary changes for lower cancer risk. Its award-winning New American Plate program is presented in brochures, seminars and on its website, www.aicr.org. AICR is a member of the World Cancer Research Fund International.

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