Playing the Odds: What We Mean by “Prevention”

Cancer prevention: It’s what AICR is all about. We fund research, analyze data and produce recommendations, all with the same goal in mind — saving lives.

We want to reduce the burden tbigstock-Magnifying-Glass-Person-Search-5197835hat cancer places on the population, both in lives lost, as well as in the billions of dollars now spent on cancer care. We want to make cancer much, much more rare.

When researchers and policy makers talk about “cancer prevention,” that’s what they mean. They’re looking at the issue from the population level, with the goal of reducing the number of cases of cancer that occur within a given group.

When we at AICR talk to the research community or policy makers, “prevention” is the word we use, as its nuanced technical meaning is generally understood.

But when we talk to individuals – when we translate the science into practical, easy-to-understand information that people can use in their daily lives, we have to be careful. Continue reading


Omega-3s and Prostate Cancer Fact Check: What’s a Guy to Do?

The media is abuzz in the wake of a surprising new study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute linking omega-3s to a higher risk of prostate cancer. But should men give up eating their salmon?SuppsInFishShape

Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids are generally acclaimed for their link to reduced inflammation and overall health promotion, especially heart health. Omega-3s are found in salmon and other fatty fish as well as in supplements. Fish oil capsules containing the omega-3s EPA and DHA are among the most popular supplements.

The study measured the percent of three omega-3s most commonly found in fish and supplements – DHA, EPA and DPA – in the blood of 834 men with prostate cancer matched to 1,393 men without cancer. Men with the highest percentage of omega-3s in their blood had a 43% increased risk of prostate cancer compared to those with the lowest concentration. No increase in risk was found in the men in the two middle quartiles – in other words, those with moderate levels.

What’s a guy to do? For now, follow AICR’s evidence-based recommendations for prostate cancer. Men can include plenty of foods rich in the antioxidants lycopene (tomatoes are a great source) and selenium (found in sunflower seeds and Brazil nuts) and rest easy knowing they’re helping reduce their risk of not only cancer but other chronic Continue reading


“Unfit for Human Consumption”: Processed Meat Science vs. Spin

meat delicaciesWell, it sure got people’s attention, we’ll say that for sure. But is it accurate?

Last week a blog post from an organization called the Institute for Natural Healing picked up on one of the 10 AICR/WCRF Recommendations for the Prevention of Cancer first published back in 2007. That blog post has since gone viral (it’s been shared tens of thousands of times across many different social media platforms), and has attracted the attention of the news media, who have now approached us for comment.

Neither AICR nor our international partners, the World Cancer Research Fund, have any connection to the Institute for Natural Healing, whose website sells “natural” dietary supplements to treat conditions ranging from cancer to heart disease to male potency. (AICR/WCRF’s report and continuous updates have found that when it comes to cancer, it’s better to rely on whole diets, not dietary supplements, to reduce your risk.)

Last week’s INH blog post specifically spotlighted the AICR/WCRF recommendation to avoid processed meat (a category which includes hot dogs, sausage, bacon and cold cuts — for more information, see the AICR Blog post “What is Processed Meat, Anyway?”). That recommendation, at least, is real. It is the conclusion of an independent panel of leading scientists convened by AICR/WCRF who, following the largest, most comprehensive review of international research ever undertaken, judged the evidence that processed meat increases the risk of colorectal cancer to be convincing. This review was published in 2007 and was subsequently confirmed in 2011. Continue reading