No, Cancer Isn’t Just “Bad Luck”

A paper published recently in the journal Science has generated an enormous amount of media coverage. The paper’s matter-of-fact title, “Variation in Cancer Incidence Among Tissues Can Be Explained By the Number of Stem Cell Divisions,” doesn’t sound like something that would set the internet buzzing, but it sure did.
Cell Division
That’s because of how the paper was promoted and covered: “MOST CANCERS DUE TO BAD LUCK, NOT PREVENTABLE, STUDY FINDS” screamed one headline. But there’s a sharp disconnect between this paper’s findings and the hype surrounding it.

Here at AICR, we fund and analyze the research showing that a healthy weight, a healthy diet and regular physical activity could prevent hundreds of thousands of U.S. cancers every year. We’re concerned that the oversimplified coverage this study received will reinforce the widespread conviction that cancer “just happens” and cause Americans to throw up their hands and ignore the empowering, evidence-based message that everyday choices play an important protective role in risk for many of the most common cancers.

When looking at this paper, ask yourself three basic questions. Continue reading

Study: Lowfat Diet, Weight Loss, and Survival For Women with Specific Breast Cancers

A new long-term study that adds to the research on diet and breast cancer survival finds that women with certain types of breast tumors who reduced their dietary fat for years after diagnosis — and also lost weight — had lower death rates over the next 15 years than survivors on a standard diet. canstockphoto16568943

The study was presented today at the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium and is not yet published in a journal.

It was funded in part by AICR and joins a growing body of research investigating how diet affects women diagnosed with breast cancer. In October, an AICR report on breast cancer survivorship in partnership with WCRF found some indication that fat may play a role in survival. The Continuous Update Project report found there was limited but consistent research suggesting that eating lower amounts of total fat and in particular, saturated fat, before a diagnosis of breast cancer linked to improved survival.

Weight loss may also play a role, as the low-fat group lost a a modest but significant amount of weight in this study. The CUP report found indications that being a healthy weight may lengthen survival for women diagnosed with breast cancer. But the report’s findings were not strong enough to make a specific recommendation.

Observational evidence relating to low-fat diets and breast cancer survival is mixed and previous research from another major randomized dietary study among breast cancer survivors – the WHEL study – found a lowfat diet did not affect mortality or recurrence.

The study presented today included approximately 2,400 women who were part of Women’s Intervention Nutrition Study (WINS), a study that first launched in 1987. All the women were diagnosed with early stage breast cancer and they joined the study within six months of diagnosis. Continue reading

Many Unaware Diabetes Ups Cancer Risk, How Lifestyle Can Help

Today is World Diabetes Day and it comes at a time when the US rate of diabetes and those at risk for the disease are higher then ever before. Most are cases of type 2 diabetes, which brings numerous challenges in itself. Many are not aware that this disease also brings an increased risk of several cancers. For those at risk, you can lower it. CancerDiabetesVennx300

A paper back in 2010 found that people with type 2 diabetes are are at twice the increased risk of developing liver, pancreas and endometrium cancers, when compared to those without diabetes. Increased risk is smaller but still evident for cancers of the colon/rectum, post-menopausal breast and bladder.

A June report released by the government show how many men and women face these risks:
– about 1 in 10 US adults have diabetes
– about 1 in 3 are at risk for developing it
– over 1 in 4 adults with diabetes are undiagnosed

The connection between cancers and type 2 diabetes appears to be – in part – due to risk factors shared by both diseases, such as obesity, poor diet and being inactive. The positive is that people can do something about these.

Eating healthy, being active, and getting to then staying a healthy weight can help people with pre-diabetes reduce the risk of many cancers and type 2 diabetes. For those with diabetes, a healthy lifestyle can reduce the risk of cancers and improve management of the disease.

If you are at risk of developing or have diabetes, here, our Nutrition Advisor and expert in this area talks about the cancer-diabetes connections and steps you can take.