One of the most common questions we get here at AICR is about sugar. And it can be confusing. The overall body of evidence suggests that sugar’s link to cancer risk is an indirect one: diets high in sugar can lead to obesity, and excess body fat is a cause of ten different cancers.
But now comes a study performed in mice that is getting a lot of media attention. It suggests a more direct link between sugar consumption and breast cancer development. Published in Cancer Research, the study is interesting, says AICR Vice President of Research Susan Higginbotham, PhD, RD, “but it’s important to recognize, that this is a single study and it is testing diets in mice, not in people.”
“Our reports, which have reviewed thousands of studies on diet and cancer, have found no evidence that sugar or added sugar directly causes cancer in humans. “We recommend limiting energy-dense foods and avoiding sugary drinks, but current evidence suggests it is not necessary to avoid sugar altogether.”
The animal study
In this animal study, researchers fed groups of mice diets with increasing amounts of the sugar sucrose – your basic white table sugar – and compared them to mice fed a sugar-free starch-based diet. These mice all were carrying breast cancer cells. Continue reading
Bad diet, inactivity, smoking and drinking alcohol – all are among the causes of up to 90 percent of cancers, according to a new analysis that stresses how many cases of cancer are under our control.
This paper, published in Nature, is in stark opposition to the paper out earlier this year. Published in Science, that paper found that the majority of cancer cases were caused by “bad luck,” our cells going awry without much people could do to control them. At that time, we pointed out some key flaws with their analysis.
This study used the same premise and a lot of the same data as the Science article to reach a different conclusion: lifestyle makes a difference when it comes to cancer risk.
Here at AICR, where we focus on how diet, physical activity and body fat link to cancer, a wide and consistent body of evidence shows that these factors make a difference. One third of the most common cancers can be prevented with diet, staying lean, and being active.
Melanoma is one of the most common cancers in the US and is the leading cause of skin cancer death. The National Cancer Institute estimates there will be 74,000 new cases in 2015. Currently, the only established lifestyle risk factor for this disease is exposure to ultraviolet radiation (UVR), primarily from sun and tanning beds.
Now, a new analysis from the NIH-AARP Diet and Health Study links coffee drinking with lower risk for the most aggressive form of melanoma. The study used data from 1/2 million non-Hispanic whites who were cancer-free and aged 50-71 when the study began in 1995.
The researchers looked at participants’ daily coffee intake – none; one cup or less; 2-3 cups or 4 or more cups. They found that those drinking 4 or more cups of coffee a day had a 20% lower risk for the aggressive type of melanoma – called malignant melanoma – compared to non-coffee drinkers. Then, they looked at whether participants drank decaf or caffeinated coffee. They did not find a significant difference in malignant melanoma risk for decaf drinkers compared to non-drinkers, but for those who drank regular coffee, there was a 25% lower risk compared to non-coffee consumers. Continue reading