Pizza for Cancer Prevention? Mining Twitter for Popular Nutrition and Cancer Myths

I am not a cancer expert.canstockphoto6433880

So when I want to get a sense of the state of research related to nutrition and cancer I turn to resources like the AICR. But many people don’t know about such resources, and this is reflected in cancer knowledge. For instance, the AICR’s own survey found that 42% of Americans don’t think that a healthy diet can reduce cancer risk, and fewer are aware of associations with specific foods such as processed meat.

What resources are people visiting, and what are they talking about? One way to get a glimpse of this is to mine Twitter, which I did for the last couple weeks, collecting about 420,000 tweets containing the word “cancer”. From these, I used the list of terms and their derivatives from this AICR/WCRF report, along with other health related terms that I came up with (82 in total) to assemble a list of 14,585 tweets for analysis of the links being posted. Continue reading


For Cancer Researchers, A Social Media Wake-Up Call

This year, AICR is trying something different at our Annual Research Conference on Food, Nutrition, Physical Activity and Cancer next week. Something we hope will act as a clarion call for cancer researcher and health professionals.canstockphoto6433880

We’ve all gone to conferences where the social media engagement is limited to attendees being encouraged to tweet their experiences. But at a breakfast session first thing in the morning on November 8th, AICR is hosting a special panel to discuss how scientists can engage in meaningful conversations with the public using social media.

There is an urgent need for responsible, evidence-based cancer information in social media, and unfortunately this need, in many cases, is now being met by self-appointed health “gurus” who make unverifiable or patently false claims. Now is the time for informed, rational voices to enter the furious ongoing discussion. We must provide context and sober, well-informed resources and information.

Social media gives scientists and practitioners with a means of sharing their work and engaging in a meaningful two-way discussion with a wider audience. Continue reading