Eating plenty of plant foods, being active and following AICR’s other recommendations for cancer prevention consistently and significantly decreases cancer incidence and death, finds the first independently-conducted review of the research on the topic. The study was published today in Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers & Prevention.
AICR research shows that almost a third of the most common US cancers could be prevented by following AICR Recommendations for Cancer Prevention.
Today’s paper looked at studies that investigated how both AICR Recommendations and American Cancer Society (ACS) guidelines for cancer prevention linked to incidence and mortality.
These individual studies had generated a score based on how much the participants met the individual guidelines. A study, for example, would assign a point or partial point for a person being physically active daily or eating 18 ounces or less of red meat weekly. Then, researchers would track if the participants developed or died of cancer.
In total, the review looked at a dozen studies. Overall, those who most followed either AICR recommendations or ACS guidelines had lower risk of cancer incidence and mortality compared to those who least followed them. Risk reduction ranged from 10 to 45 percent for cancer incidence and a 14 to 61 percent reduction for cancer mortality.
For individual cancers, those who most adhered to healthy eating and living recommendations had a lower risk of breast, endometrial and colorectal cancers compared to those who least adhered. The risk reduction varied, ranging from 19 to 60 percent lower risk for breast cancer, for example.
No significant findings were found for ovarian and prostate cancers, and there was also no conclusion on lung. Except for breast cancer, which had by far the most evidence with eight studies, the other cancers only had three or four studies apiece. And there was not enough research to look at other cancer sites.
There are several caveats to the research, such as each study generating its own score and interpreting the recommendations slightly different. Measures were also self reported and given only at the start of the study, as opposed to looking at habits over the years.
Yet as the authors note, the evidence consistently points to a similar finding: a healthy eating and lifestyle pattern lowers cancer risk and cancer mortality.
For more on AICR research involving diet, weight and physical activity and lowering risk of specific cancers, visit our Learn More About Cancer.
Study authors were supported by National Cancer Institute funds at the University of Arizona.