Five Things About Cancer We Didn't Know A Decade Ago


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Jan 25 2010 - 9:44pm

A new synopsis from top experts, presented by the American Institute of Cancer Research (AICR), highlights five things about cancer that have surfaced in the past decade. The role of nutrition, weight management, and increased awareness of the link between diet and cancer are perhaps the most significant findings from cancer researchers in the past ten years.

Fat Fuels Cancer

The AICR and the American Cancer Association now recommend maintaining a healthy weight as a major intervention for cancer prevention. Elisa V. Bandera, MD, PhD, Associate Professor of Epidemiology at The Cancer Institute of New Jersey UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School says obesity rates have escalated, making awareness of the link between excess body fat and cancer particularly important. Dr. Bandera also points out that now we know that childhood exposure, even before birth, “can have an impact on the risk of developing breast cancer later in life."

What happens after cancer?

Wendy Demark-Wahnefried, PhD, RD Professor of Behavioral Science at University of Texas' M. D. Anderson Cancer Center points out a new awareness of cancer survivors and the increased risk of recurrent cancer and poor health outcomes – “it's a population that can really have a big budget impact because cancer survivors are such intense users of health services. We've learned there's a whole energy balance issue and now we're really trying to ferret out how body weight status plays a role in how people get through treatment successfully, and how it influences their long-term survivorship and overall health afterwards."

Studies have shown that obesity increases the chances of prostate cancer recurrence, regardless of race. Obesity has also been shown to hinder breast cancer treatment. Other studies show that women who gain weight in adulthood have a higher risk of all types of breast cancer.

Cancer prevention isn’t just about diet, shown by advanced technology

Advancements in technology have shown researchers that cancer prevention isn’t just about diet – it’s a whole way of life that can keep us cancer free. AICR Director of Research, Susan Higginbotham, PhD, RD, MPH ,an epidemiologist and a registered dietitian says, "Researchers are examining the totality of evidence in ways that were not possible before. The AICR/WCRF expert report is an example of this comprehensive approach to synthesizing results from many different studies. Computer technologies and the statistical software available to researchers are much more advanced today than they were even ten years ago.


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From these research reviews, patterns are emerging that suggest it's the whole diet and ways of life, rather than single exposures like isolated nutrients or vitamins that are important for the prevention of cancer and other chronic diseases." Cancer prevention means not smoking, reducing exposure to environmental pollution, and managing stress that promotes tumor growth. Cancer risk can be reduced through simple lifestyle interventions.


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