It’s our favorite time of year. All of us at AICR are eagerly gearing up for our annual research conference on Food, Nutrition, Physical Activity and Cancer here in Washington, DC, from October 29-31.
We spend the months in the run-up to the research conference looking forward to welcoming hundreds of investigators, clinicians, nurses, registered dietitians, policy makers and members of the media who are passionately interested in how nutrition, physical activity and obesity intersect with cancer risk.
Selecting which subjects will make for engaging and enlightening conference sessions is a job our Conference Program Committee takes seriously, and for good reason: the AICR conference’s focus on the nutrition and cancer connection is unique and specific, and it continues to sets us apart.
Our Program Committee is keenly aware that making a topic the subject of an AICR conference session does far more than simply gather scientists in a room to discuss the latest findings. It also serves to raise the visibility of a research topic before a global audience of scientists, health professionals, shapers of health policy, and the press. In a very real sense it can help drive the research agenda for the field.
That’s why we’re proud that this year’s conference is spotlighting two emerging research questions that demand the scientific community’s attention.
Our opening plenary session this year focuses on the so-called “Goldilocks” question. Researchers have learned that when it comes to cancer prevention, the body utilizes micronutrients from food in a host of different ways. The notion that, in all cases, “more is better” has been proven false, with vitamins and minerals like folate, vitamin D, selenium and more showing complex relationships to risk for specific cancers. Again and again, we see that getting too little of these substances is associated with increased risk for several cancers — but getting too much can raise risk, as well. How much is too much? What’s the “Goldilocks zone”? And how can broad public health recommendations account for this growing complexity and nuance? These are questions that demand answers, and we hope our panel, chaired by Tufts University’s Joel B. Mason, MD, will further the process of finding them.
On Thursday afternoon, we’re devoting an entire session to the long-term survivorship of those cancers that occur in childhood. We know that treatment of these cancers leaves the survivor at higher risk for health problems later in life, and research is just beginning to elucidate how various factors related to diet, weight management and physical activity can improve many different health-related outcomes over the life course. AICR Conference Chair Cheryl Rock, PhD, RDN of the University of California at San Diego is chairing this panel, which brings together some of the leading experts in this burgeoning area of investigation.
We hope to see you on the floor at this year’s research conference or — if you can’t attend — that you’ll follow along as we post updates on this blog and our Twitter feed (hashtag #AICR14). We can’t wait.