Fact Check: For Cancer Risk, Diet Matters

An article in this morning’s New York Times Science Section, “An Apple a Day, and Other Myths,” attempts to grapple with the complex nature of diet-cancer science, but leaves the reader with a very misleading impression of the state of the research.Reports_blog

The article quotes a recent talk by epidemiologist, and AICR Expert Panel member Dr. Walter Willett. “Diet and cancer has turned out to be more complex and challenging than any of us expected,” he said. All of us at AICR know this only too well. Unfortunately, the article goes on to equate “complex and challenging” with “does not matter.”

“Make no mistake,” says AICR Director of Research Susan Higginbotham, PhD, RD, “this is not a conclusion that accords with an objective and systematic analysis of the available science. If there’s one thing AICR’s research has shown, and continues to show, it’s that when it comes to cancer risk, diet does matter.” Continue reading


Just How Many Cancers Are Preventable?

On Tuesday, World Cancer Day, the preventability of cancer made big headlines around the world. Here at AICR, we were pleased to see that.
bigstock-Vector-red-apple-earth-28349387
After all, we’ve dedicated ourselves to funding and analyzing research, which shows we can prevent one-third of the most common cancers — over 374,000 U.S. cancer cases every year — by changes to our diet, physical activity and weight.

But you may have seen headlines with different numbers from the World Health Organization (WHO) saying that one half of all cancers are preventable. We heard from some of you who were confused because AICR says we can cut the number of cancers by one third.

So, which is it? How many cancers don’t have to happen: one-third, or one-half? Who’s right, AICR or WHO?

The answer, of course, is that we both are. Continue reading


In Memoriam: Dr. John Milner

All of us at the American Institute for Cancer Research are grieving the loss of our dear friend and colleague Dr. John Milner, who passed away suddenly on New Year’s Eve.

Dr. Milner was a tireless, eloquent and impassioned champion of research into nutrition’s role in cancer risk. We will rememberNo Slide Title him as a true leader whose combination of dedication, intellect and personal charm brought experts from many different fields together. His warm and garrulous presence, and his sage advice, will be greatly missed.

Dr. Milner was a longtime friend to AICR, serving for many years as a member of our grant review panel and our research conference planning committee.

During his time as chief of the National Cancer Institute’s Nutrition Science Research Group, where he helped shape the nation’s scientific inquiry into diet and cancer prevention, he served as the NCI observer for the Expert Panel that authored the AICR/WCRF report, Food, Nutrition, Physical Activity and the Prevention of Cancer: A Global Perspective.

His involvement in the field of nutrition dates back to his student days at Oklahoma State University, when a work-study job in a research laboratory triggered a lifelong interest in fighting disease. After earning his PhD from Cornell University, Milner was recruited for the faculty of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where he met Mary Frances Picciano, PhD, who would later become his wife. Continue reading