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December 7, 2019 | 3 minute read

The Latest Findings from our Scientists

The grant cycle at AICR spans two to three years, helping us stay up-to-date on the latest research in the field.

We regularly update the scope and focus of our grant competitions to ensure that our researchers address the highest priority questions regarding the link between diet, physical activity, weight management, and cancer.

Because AICR is the only not-for-profit dedicated entirely to research in this area, we are instrumental in helping direct funds and awareness to those evolving priorities. Our research priorities have contributed to the strong evidence that a healthy lifestyle is one of the most important factors in preventing both primary cancer occurrences as well as recurrence in survivors.

Below are just a few of the findings from projects funded by AICR back in 2015.

How does exercise impact the way that our immune systems respond to breast cancer?

Jennifer Ligibel, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

Impact of physical activity on tumor gene expression in women with newly diagnosed breast cancer.

This project examined the effect of exercise on tumor tissue through comparing changes in breast tissue over time between one group who was prescribed an exercise regime and one who was not.

This study provides some of the first evidence directly looking at the effect of exercise on breast cancer in humans, and findings suggest that exercise may activate the immune system within the breast cancer.

Given the explosion of interest in immunotherapy and the role of the immune system in cancer risk and outcomes, this study adds timely and unexpected evidence to support additional mechanisms by which physical activity may impact cancer diagnosis and treatment.

Can cruciferous vegetables play a role in preventing primary occurrences of breast cancer?

Trgyve Tollefsbol,University of Alabama, Birmingham

Epigenetics of early life exposure to cancer preventive cruciferous vegetables.

Dr. Tollefsbol studied how regularly eating cruciferous vegetable impacts the prevention of breast cancer. His study showed that eating broccoli sprouts early on in life can help to prevent epigenetic changes that can lead to cancer.

The project also showed a strong link between early intervention and the efficacy of these vegetables in preventing breast cancer.

Lifecourse exposures and the mechanisms by which diet impact cancer risk were specifically emphasized as future research priorities in the Third Expert Report.

This study provides some intriguing evidence of novel mechanisms by which certain foods may reduce cancer risk.

Can eating sugar affect colorectal cancer survival rates?

Kana, Wu, Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health

Sugar-sweetened beverages, fructose and sucrose, genetic susceptibility, molecular subtypes, and colorectal cancer survival.

Dr. Wu and her team sought to examine the links between post-diagnosis intake of sugar-sweetened beverages, refined carbohydrates, fructose and sucrose and prognosis for those with colorectal cancer.

Overall, it was found that colorectal cancer mortality increased as dietary insulin scores increased, suggesting that abstaining from excessive sugar intake could improve outcomes for people diagnosed with colorectal cancer.

Our recently revised cancer prevention recommendations specifically recommend that people avoid sugar-sweetened beverages largely on the basis of their association with obesity and the link between obesity and risk of at least 12 types of cancer.

However, the metabolic consequences of excessive sugar consumption may be more direct in those diagnosed with cancer.

These are just a few of the many AICR-funded projects that demonstrate the breadth and depth of the research that is dramatically enhancing our understanding of how lifestyle impacts cancer risk and survival.

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