Headline Headaches: Alcohol, Coffee and Liver Cancer

22007913_sLast week’s release of our latest report from the Continuous Update Project, on liver cancer, received excellent press coverage, for which we are grateful. We know how tough it can be to bottom-line the sometimes complicated findings from scientific research, and we appreciate the good work of those in the media who do so on a daily basis.

Any reporter will tell you that they write the story, but it’s their editor who writes the headlines. And today, headlines do the heavy lifting of driving web traffic and reader engagement. They are the gatekeepers who determine whether or not you click to get the full story, on skim past to the next headline. Which is why, when they’re misleading, they can do real damage.

Take this example, from a UPI story: “Coffee Erases Liver Cancer Risk Caused By Daily Alcohol Consumption.Continue reading


What We Googled in 2014 on Food, Drinks and Cancer

Here at AICR, we’re well versed in the latest scientific evidence on food, drink, and cancer prevention. We also know that a lot of people get their health information online, where it can be difficult to separate fact from fiction. So what were we searching for this year, when it comes to cancer and foods and drinks? We used the 2014 Google Trends to find out.19024481_s

Alcohol and cancer
This was the most popular search term involving cancer and a specific food or drink, for good reason. The latest research has found that alcohol increases the risk of some cancers, including breast and colorectal. Based on the evidence, AICR recommends that if you do drink alcohol, limit your drinks to 1 per day for women or 2 per day for men.

Coffee and cancer
Coffee had a lot of people searching this year and the news is good for coffee drinkers. While scientists early on used to think coffee increased risk for certain cancers, research now shows a lack of association or even a beneficial effect for cancer risk. In 2013, our latest report on endometrial cancer found that drinking coffee – whether decaf or regular – is associated with a lower risk of this cancer. We’ll drink to that! Continue reading


Mammograms: Putting Headlines in Context

As an organization that focuses on helping people reduce their risk and survive cancer, we’re getting a lot of questions about a major study released this week on mammograms. And if you’ve read about the study questioning the benefits of mammograms, there’s a good chance you’re confused.mammogram_dreamstime_xs_21847816

The Canadian study involving about 90,000 women ages 40-59 was published this week in the British Medical Journal. The study spanned 25 years and during that time about half the women received regular mammograms and annual breast exams; the other half only had the breast exams.

The study found that whether the women received regular mammograms or not, a similar number of women died from breast cancer over the years.

The value of regular mammogram screening has been controversial for awhile– five years ago the United States Preventive Service Task Force (USPSTF) changed its guidelines, recommending that regular mammogram screening begin at age 50 every two years rather than age 40 every year. As we wrote at that time, AICR’s recommendations relate to the prevention of cancer through diet, weight and physical activity; for screenings, like mammography, AICR’s materials rely on the National Cancer Institute recommendations.

Your own decision about mammography is best made in consultation with your health care provider who can help you weigh the risks and benefits based on your history and personal risk factors.

For more on the study and perspectives from other organizations, here’s a CNN article.

For prevention, AICR’s expert report and it’s continuous updates have found that lifestyle matters. There are specific steps you can take to lower your risk for breast cancers.  For postmenopausal breast cancers, for example:

  • aim to be physically active at least 30 minutes every day,
  • get to and stay a healthy weight
  • avoid alcoholic beverages or if you do drink, limit to 1 drink a day.

AICR estimates that about 38% of breast cancer cases – about 90,000 every year – in the U.S. could be prevented by following those recommendations.

Learn more about the research on reducing risk for breast and other cancers.