Aspirin and Cancer Prevention: AICR’s Take

Three years ago, when studies appeared in the British medical journal The Lancet suggesting that low-dose aspirin intake was protective against cancer, we offered our take as a cancer prevention and education organization:Pills_Aspirin

“AICR’s focus is on the relationships of diet, nutrition, physical activity and weight to cancer. As such, we take no position on the effect of aspirin — a drug — on cancer risk, although we of course watch this research with interest.”

We went on to wonder if other health experts would one day offer official advice to take aspirin daily for lower cancer risk.

Yesterday, in a draft statement, the US Preventive Services Task Force did just that for colorectal cancer.

The statement is not final; it’s the first step in a process whereby the Task Force seeks public input before it makes a final recommendation. In addition, the Task Force’s draft recommendation with respect to cancer risk is not a sweeping one — it limits itself to colorectal cancer, and only applies to adults aged 50 to 70. Continue reading

Report on Lifestyle and Kidney Cancer Risk: Unraveling the Alcohol Link

The evidence is stronger than ever that being overweight or obese increases the risk for kidney cancer, according to a report we released today. It’s the key finding in the latest update from our ongoing systematic review of the global research, the Continuous Update Project (CUP).Wines_FD001551_7

Today’s report reaffirms the conclusion of our previous report, making kidney one of ten cancers now strongly associated with overweight and obesity. You can read the key findings here.

Among those findings, you’ll also find a new conclusion with alcohol. Here’s what we can say about alcohol and kidney cancer: it’s complicated.

Alcohol is known to be a potent carcinogen, and has been definitely linked in previous reports from AICR and WCRF International to greater risk of cancer of the mouth, pharynx and larynx, esophagus, liver, colorectum, and breast. This is why AICR recommends that if people choose to drink at all, they limit their consumption to 1 drink/day for women, and 2 drinks/day for men.

But when our CUP panel examined recent evidence from 8 studies, they found that moderate amounts of alcohol (about two drinks per day) were associated with lower risk for kidney cancer. Continue reading

Is Red Meat “The Enemy”? AICR’s Take

raw meat on wooden plateContext.

It’s what every examination of the science of diet and health requires. For too long, authorities have demonized specific foods in an attempt to explain poor health outcomes, or anointed the latest “superfood” a panacea against disease.

That’s more or less the gist of a new article in the New York Times, “Red Meat is Not The Enemy.” The author suggests that experts historically “cherry-pick” data from individual studies to single out one nutrient or food in an attempt to determine its role in human health.

The Totality of Evidence

We agree that this can be a problem, and a misleading one. And that’s precisely why, at the American Institute for Cancer Research, when we perform our ongoing analyses of the global evidence on the connections between cancer risk and lifestyle (read: diet, weight, physical activity), we do so using systematic literature reviews and meta-analyses. (We call it the Continuous Update Project, or CUP.) Continue reading