By Cancer Site
Evidence shows that our risk for many types of cancer is related to diet, physical activity and weight. But for some types, it is not yet possible to determine if lifestyle plays a role. This does not mean such links are impossible, simply that more research is needed.
The AICR/WCRF Expert Report and Continuous Update Project examines the evidence linking various lifestyle factors to cancers at 17 different body sites using a rigorous and objective process called Systematic Literature Reviews (SLRs).
Strong Evidence of Lifestyle Link
For 12 of these cancers, strong evidence emerged that diet, weight and physical activity can raise or lower risk. They are:
- Colorectal Cancer — Updated Content
- Breast Cancer — Updated Content
- Endometrial (Lining of the Uterus) Cancer
- Esophageal Cancer — Updated Content
- Gallbladder Cancer
- Kidney Cancer
- Liver Cancer
- Lung Cancer
- Cancers of the Mouth, Pharynx and Larynx
- Pancreatic Cancer
- Prostate Cancer
- Stomach Cancer
No Strong Evidence of a Lifestyle Link
The expert panel also examined the available evidence for five other cancers using the same exacting SLR method. The results are as follows*:
- Cervical Cancer
The expert panel concluded that there is as yet no strong evidence that any aspect of diet, physical activity and weight influences the risk of cervical cancer.
- Bladder Cancer
The expert panel concluded that there is as yet no strong evidence that any aspect of diet, physical activity and weight influences the risk of bladder cancer.
- Ovarian Cancer
To date, the strongest evidence linking any aspect of lifestyle to this cancer is related to adult attained height. This does not mean that being tall is a cause of ovarian cancer, however. Instead, it is believed that various genetic, hormonal and nutritional factors that contribute to adult attained height are likely the true underlying causes of ovarian cancer.
- Skin Cancer
That skin cancer is directly caused by excessive sun exposure is well-established. The expert panel specifically examined the evidence linking skin cancer to aspects of diet, weight and physical activity. No strong evidence emerged, with the exception of arsenic in drinking water, for which a probable link to skin cancer was found.
- Nasopharyngeal Cancer
This cancer is rare in the United States but common in Southern China. The panel, which examined the global evidence, concluded that consumption of Cantonese-style salted fish is probably a cause of this cancer.
For the following cancers, evidence was too limited to examine using SLRs. For this reason, the Panel did not issue conclusions about them, but flagged the need for further research on possible lifestyle links*.
- Thyroid Cancer
- Testicular Cancer
- Lymphoma (Hodgkin’s and Non-Hodgkin’s)
- Multiple Myeloma
- Cancers of the Musculoskelatal System (Liposarcoma, fibrosarcoma, osteosarcoma, myosarcoma)
- Cancers of the Nervous system (Glioblastoma, meningoma, sellar tumor, cranial tumor, spinal nerve tumor, central nervous system lymphoma)
*NOTE: Although there is currently insufficient evidence to definitively determine if these cancers are related to diet, weight and physical activity, AICR funds innovative research involving these cancers that seeks to find and map such links.
What the Panel’s Judgments Mean
strong, consistent and unlikely to change in the future
compelling but not quite strong or consistent enough to be "convincing"
Limited Evidence – Suggestive
too limited for a grade of "probable", but a general consistency in the data
Limited Evidence – No Conclusion
too inconsistent or insufficient for a definitive grade
Substantial Effect on Risk Unlikely
enough evidence to rule out a connection
Published on April 3, 2013