PART 1 of 3 POSTS
How can healthcare professionals and health educators committed to the value of a healthy lifestyle incorporate cancer risk reduction and survivorship into the care they provide? AICR recently provided tools and strategies to do this in a workshop at the ACLM (American College of Lifestyle Medicine) Lifestyle Medicine Conference.
Strong Evidence: The Essential Foundation for Cancer Prevention & Survivorship Programs
Healthcare professionals know that sound advice and programs about cancer risk and survivorship must be based on strong evidence from the overall body of research in the field – not based on single studies that make headlines or fit individual beliefs and preferences.
Research has made important strides through AICR’s 40 years of work supporting and analyzing studies on diet, physical activity, weight, and cancer. The field has come a long way from early understandings of risk when the research focused mainly on how to avoid and change the risk posed by carcinogens.
Nigel Brockton, PhD, AICR’s Vice President of Research, described the progress made in understanding that cancer risk can be affected by metabolic factors (like insulin and related growth factors), the microbiome in the gut and individual tissues, and interplay with the immune system.
AICR cancer prevention recommendations translate the strongest evidence into lifestyle choices that can make a difference in cancer risk.
People are sometimes surprised that some things labeled must-have’s – or must-avoid — by Internet stories and best-selling books are not included in the AICR Recommendations. What about dairy, tea, and fish, for example? If red meat is best limited, why not advise people to avoid it completely?
Dr. Brockton walked workshop participants through important elements of translating the research, such as the consistency of findings in different studies and the importance of dose-response analyses. This is how research results are analyzed to show risk at different levels of exposure to a food, nutrient, or activity to see if there’s a threshold amount before risk increases, decreases, or plateaus where larger amounts don’t pose additional risk or benefit.
Only evidence graded as strong is included in AICR recommendations. Highlighting the careful process of scientific review behind the AICR recommendations is a key message for healthcare professionals and health educators.
AICR’s 10 Cancer Prevention Recommendations help people focus on diet and lifestyle choices that can make the biggest difference in cancer risk. This message is key to helping people avoid feeling overwhelmed from constant media and Internet suggestions of poorly supported ideas of what to do. Workshop attendees had the chance to zero in, with Dr. Brockton’s help, on the evidence behind these priority message points.