Study: Are Scientists Overstating the Diet-Cancer Link?

A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition highlights why studying the link between diet and cancer is such a complex and often confusing prospect. It also illustrates why results from any individual study must always be examined in the wider context of the research that has gone before. (Which is, let’s just note here, precisely what AICR/WCRF’s expert reports and Continuous Update Project [CUP] do.)

Researchers at California’s Stanford Prevention Research picked 50 foods at random from a cookbook and entered them into a research database to see how many had been associated with cancer risk — either raising or lowering it — by individual studies. For 40 out of the 50 foods, their searches turned up studies that suggested some effect on cancer risk. Upon closer examination, the researchers concluded that many of these reported associations were weak — certainly too weak to justify someone concerned about cancer risk changing her/his diet to include or exclude the foods in question. Continue reading


Is Organic More Cancer-Protective? (And … Does it Matter?)

A study by researchers at Stanford University which appeared in Monday’s issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine hit on one of the biggest hot-button issues in nutrition today: organic foods, and their merits. Much of the media coverage has centered on what this large study says about the relative benefits of organic vs. conventionally grown foods in human health.

But that’s not what this study is really about. In fact, only 17 of the 240 studies examined by the researchers involved humans at all (the rest examined the nutrient profiles and pesticide levels of various foods). And of those 17, only 3 involved human health outcomes (eczema, wheezing and atopy, or “hyperallergenic” reactions). And any conclusions about the nutrient profiles of various foods will always be hampered by the fact that, as this NPR piece points out, the profiles of any two tomatoes sitting in the same pile in your grocery’s produce aisle will vary widely, for a host of reasons, regardless of whether they’re organic or conventional.

So it’s not quite the slam-dunk “Organics Are Not Healthier For You!” study some in the media are portraying it to be. It’s simply a serious analysis of the available literature, and it should be welcomed.

After the jump, some key findings of Monday’s study — and a call for cooler heads. Continue reading


PSA Screening: There’s More to Prostate Cancer Prevention

Today the US Preventive Services Task Force — an advisory panel of cancer experts — released a new recommendation that men should no longer routinely undergo a PSA blood test to screen for prostate cancer.¬† The federally appointed panel concluded that the harms of¬†unnecessary surgeries or other interventions outweigh the benefits of the test.

The Task Force released the recommendation in today’s issue of the journal Annals of Internal Medicine.

The American Urological Society is one organization saying the Task Force is taking an extreme position, and that regular PSA screening for men 50 and over saves lives.

While the back-and-forth continues, we at AICR believe that the decision of how often to screen for this and other cancers remains a personal one, and one that is best decided in consultation with one’s healthcare provider. Continue reading