Trends in Cancer Prevention Research

Like last year, I created a Google Spreadsheet to query raw publication counts from PubMed of food/nutrition/health terms from an AICR/WCRF report. This is a way to visualize how nutrition and cancer research may be changing over time. The counts represent the number of published articles containing the term in column A plus “cancer” in the title or abstract.

Like last year, I used the following color scheme from the AICR report: the coloring reflects the strongest confidence for an association between the term and a decreased or increased risk for at least one cancer type. Terms with a yellow background were not in the document list and added by me.

The spreadsheet is sorted by column D: the percentage of papers published in 2013 compared to 2012. This will still change as PubMed will be indexing papers published in 2013 for some time, but the spreadsheet auto-updates daily so it will become more accurate over time. Column M shows the average publication count change per year over the last 6 years (2008 to 2013), which may better reflect the recent trend. Continue reading


A TV Diet: A Nutritional No-No

Watching TV is already linked with several negative health outcomes, here’s one possible reason why.

A new study has found that if we were to base our diet entirely on foods in TV ads, we would be eating 25 times the recommended servings of sugars and 20 times the recommended servings of fat. Our diet would provide less than half of the recommended servings of vegetables, dairy, and fruits.

The study is published in this month’s Journal of the American Dietetic Association. You can read the abstract here.

The study analyzed food ads during 84 hours of primetime and 12 hours of Saturday morning shows over a 28-day period. The result was about 800 food ads. After analyzing the food’s nutritional content and serving size, researchers compared the food item to the recommended Daily Values (based on a 2,000 calorie daily diet) and the Food Guide Pyramid.

The average observed foods contained too many serving of sugars, fat, and meat and too few servings of dairy, fruit and vegetables. These foods also oversupplied 8 nutrients – including sodium, saturated fat, and thiamin – and undersupplied 12 nutrients, many of which are linked with heath benefits, including vitamins A, D, and E.

You may not knowingly base your diet on TV ads but media messages are powerful influencers of our eating behavior, suggest the authors. (By age 65, according to the study, the average person will have seen about 2 million ads on television, a lot of which are for food.)

The authors recommend several strategies to increase awareness and change. You could also watch a little less TV.

AICR’s expert report found that watching a lot of television probably increases the risk of overweight and obesity. And excess body fat causes seven types of cancer, along with several other health disorders.

Is there a food ad you find particularly bothersome? Or one that you love?