Now, on World Cancer Day, We Already Have the Knowledge, Tools to Prevent So Many Cancers

In his State of the Union address, President Obama announced a “moonshot” program to fight cancer. In charge of that program, Vice President Biden has met with oncologists, scientists, and other leaders in the cancer field, and stated that, “We’re trying to get to a quantum leap on the path to a cure”

Anne McTiernan MD, PhD.

Anne McTiernan MD, PhD.

Much of the focus has been on Big Data, and on sharing science across institutions, in the effort to quickly move results from the lab to the public. In a nation where approximately four in ten people can expect to be diagnosed with invasive cancer in their lifetimes, we need big efforts to fight this disease.

Today, World Cancer Day, is a time to raise awareness of prevention: Cancer prevention needs to be a part of the renewed push against cancer.

Focusing only on the cure is like trying to douse a forest fire on one front while someone is lighting matches on another. The good news is that we already have the knowledge and tools here on earth to prevent a large proportion of cancers from developing, without reaching for the moon.

WCD adAvoidance of known carcinogens (including tobacco, excess radiation, sun and tanning), and use of vaccines for human papilloma and hepatitis B viruses, can prevent a wide range of cancers such as lung, skin, liver, cervix, mouth and throat. Screening and removal of premalignant lesions can prevent several cancers including those of the skin, colon, and cervix. Medications have been shown in clinical trials to prevent breast or prostate cancers in persons at high risk for those cancers. Continue reading


Sugar and Breast Cancer, An Intriguing But Early Animal Study

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.”

AICR Sugar Rec

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


Study: Vast majority of cancers caused by lifestyle, not “bad luck”

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.

1_3 Graphic[6] Continue reading