The release of The Third Expert Report – Diet, Nutrition, Physical Activity and Cancer: A Global Perspective, is a new landmark document for both clinicians and researchers working in the area of cancer prevention and survivorship.
Based on this report, the expert panel crafted the most reliable cancer prevention lifestyle advice currently available to date: the AICR/WCRF Cancer Prevention Recommendations. These lifestyle guidelines provide health professionals powerful steps they can share to educate and motivate patients. The goal of the recommendations is to help people make healthy choices in their daily lives to reduce the risk of cancer and be beneficial for cancer survivors.
AICR asked Angela Hummel, a specialist in oncology nutrition and a consulting dietitian for AICR, how the Third Expert Report will impact the advice and care she provides to her patients.
How will the Third Expert Report influence your practice and benefit your patients?
Knowing that this report is the most up-to-date and reliable resource on lifestyle and cancer risk, I can confidently use the new and revised information and recommendations to expand my counseling of patients and their families on the value of lifestyle modifications. The research summarized in the Third Expert Report builds upon AICR’s previous 10 Cancer Prevention Recommendations. I will continue to use the recommendations as a valuable resource with all my patients in much the same way as I used the recommendations from the Second Expert Report.
The area of oncology is always evolving and having access to this comprehensive report is invaluable. The report reviews and summarizes hundreds of studies that have been interpreted by experts worldwide. As a healthcare professional, this allows me to focus my time on face-to-face education. I can share the recommendations confidently knowing that the report is the most up-to-date and reliable resource on lifestyle and cancer risk.
It is helpful to have the research translated into simple statements that can be used for patient education. These recommendations are easy to explain and are a great resource for setting goals. By encouraging patients to select one or two of the recommendations to begin working on, and then helping them to set customized, reachable goals based on the recommendations we can begin to identify the steps towards a healthier lifestyle.
Can you name one recommendation that will have the greatest impact on your message to patients?
The greatest change in the updated recommendations is the recommendation regarding limiting fast food and other processed foods. The previous recommendation did not address fast food but simply advised reducing consumption of salty foods and foods processed with salt. I think that many consumers today know that fast food probably isn’t good for them, and yet many families rely on them for their convenience. The new recommendation clearly explains what fast foods usually contain that can be harmful to overall health. This recommendation is a great place to start off any discussion of diet and lifestyle, and a great way for me to introduce a discussion of alternate food selections and the concept of the New American Plate which was also developed by AICR.
What is the overall message that you can share with colleagues and patients?
The Third Expert Report emphasizes the importance of a more holistic approach to reducing cancer risk. It appears increasingly unlikely that specific foods, nutrients or other components of foods are single factors in causing or preventing cancer. Healthcare professionals can encourage patients to focus on an overall healthy lifestyle. I highly recommend using AICR’s publications that have been developed using the research that comes from The Expert Reports for nutrition education.
How do you stay updated on changes in cancer research?
There are two ways I stay updated on the latest in cancer research on nutrition and physical activity. The first is by subscribing to AICR Cancer Research Update newsletter. This is where I get a perspective beyond to go past findings from one study which may dominate news headlines. Often my patients will learn about new research findings through the internet, newspapers or television and it’s important for me to be able to help them interpret and evaluate them.
Secondly, I use the Continuous Update Project reports to stay up-to-date on cancer research. The CUP reports on specific cancer sites, like The Prevention of Colorectal Cancer released earlier this year, are particularly helpful for educating people with cancer. It is helpful that newly published studies continue to be added to the CUP evidence database and reviewed as part of the ongoing CUP.
Sign-up for AICR’s Cancer Research Update newsletter here.
Access all CUP findings and reports here.