July 23



20 Years of Research into Preventing Cancer

World Cancer Research Fund/ American Institute for Cancer Research.
Food, Nutrition, Physical Activity, and the Prevention of Cancer: A Global Perspective.  Washington DC: AICR, 2007
Professor John Potter states: “In fact, it may be possible to reduce cancer risk by 30 to 40% through dietary change as a part of a healthy lifestyle.”  Indeed, the recent Scandinavian twins study (2) has shown that environmental factors — more so than genetics — are the most important considerations in cancer risk.”

5 yr Systematic Literature Review of all relevant types of research, differing in the quantity and quality of evidence.
“Each Change has a Double Effect
“For curtailing weight gain, which in turn will curtail cancer risk, the report advocates increased physical activity and a diet based on low-energy-dense foods such as vegetables, fruits and beans. In addition, it points out that increased physical activity reduces cancer risk directly by lowering hormone levels. A diet featuring plant foods also reduces risk directly by supplying plant compounds the body needs to prevent or repair cell damage. So, getting more active and eating wisely carries a double whammy when it comes to knocking out cancer.”
Cancer does not live well in an environment filled with oxygen.  The best way to force oxygen into every cell of our body is to work our way up to consistent aerobic exercise.  Have you ever exercised hard one day and felt the deep breaths you were compelled to consume for the rest of the day?!  Regular, aerobic exercise appears to be the first and most important change we can make to have a better and longer life.
“The AICR report also raised hackles by consolidating the evidence showing that reducing consumption of alcohol and red meat—particularly processed meat—are important strategies for reducing cancer risk. Although the report does not recommend eliminating either completely, it does call for reducing the amounts Americans ordinarily consume.”
“From the point of view of cancer prevention, the best level of alcohol consumption is zero.”  He also stated that for cardiovascular disease, one or two drinks daily may be protective ~ look into the research and see what we find!
“It provides a solid evidence base for policy-makers, health professionals and informed and interested people to draw on and work with.”
“To the extent that environmental factors such as food, nutrition, and physical activity influence the risk of cancer, it is a preventable disease.”

“Evidence shows that only a small proportion of cancers are inherited.  Environmental factors are most important and can be modified.  These include:
~infectious agents [vaccinations?!]
~industrial chemicals and pollution
~physical activity
~body composition”
“That cancer is, in large part, a preventable disease”  was the conclusion of a report on diet and the prevention of cancer published more than twenty five years before this report.2
Since the early 1980’s, research and experts have agreed that food and nutrition, physical activity, drugs and body composition are individually and collectively important modifiers of the risk of cancer and taken together may be at least as important as tobacco.  Why is this not promoted more?!  Somehow we know it has some effect, but not to this degree!
“When combined with not smoking and regular exercise, this kind of healthy diet can reduce heart disease by 80%. and stroke and some cancers by 70%, compared with average rates”3

“No single study or study type can prove that any factor definitely is a cause of, or is protective against, any disease…reliable judgments on causation of disease are based on assessment of a variety of well-designed epidemiological and experimental studies…These introductory chapters show that the challenge can be effectively addressed and suggest that food, nutrition, physical activity, and body composition play a central part in the prevention of cancer.”4
“The Panel agrees, as evident in Chapters 10 & 12 that many chronic diseases, including type 2 diabetes and its precursors, cardiovascular diseases and their precursors, and also perhaps other diseases of the digestive, musculoskeletal, and nervous systems, are to a large extent caused by environmental factors, including inappropriate food and nutrition, physical inactivity, overweight and obesity and associated factors.  Following from this, future reports should consider the promotion of health and the prevention of disease as a whole.”5
Food & Nutrition and lifestyle choices are now considered, “environmental factors”?!
“The panel is aware that as with other diseases, the risk of cancer is also modified by social, cultural, economic, and ecological factors [What about how one thinks?! Segway into Ron’s father and how his loss and subsequent sadness contributed to his demise.]  Thus …identifying the deeper factors that affect cancer risk enables a wider range of policy recommendations and options to be identified.  This is the subject of a separate report to be published in late 2008.
“The public health goals and personal recommendations of the Panel that follow are offered as a significant contribution towards the prevention and control of cancer throughout the world.”

Four AICR Recommendations:

“Recommendation 1.)
Be as lean as possible within the normal range of body weight”
Maintenance of a healthy weight throughout life may be one of the most important ways to protect against cancer.  This will also protect against a number of other common chronic diseases.”

Recommendation 2.)
Be physically active as part of everyday life
(equivalent to brisk walking for at least 30 minutes each day increasing to 60min of moderate or 30 minutes of vigorous physical activity every day)
Most populations, and people living in industrialized and urban settings, have habitual levels of activity below levels to which humans are adapted.

Recommendation 3.) Avoid sugary drinks and consume fast foods sparingly, if at all

Recommendation 4.) Eat mostly foods of plant origin
(Eat at least five portions/servings of a variety of non-starchy vegetables and of fruits every day.
Eat relatively unprocessed cereals ~ grains and/or pulses (legumes) with every meal.
Limit refined starchy foods.

p. 137

1.) World Cancer Research Fund/ American Institute for Cancer Research. Food, Nutrition, Physical
Activity, and the Prevention of Cancer: A Global Perspective.  Washington DC: AICR, 2007; p. 15
2.) National Research Council.  Diet, Nutrition and Cancer.  Washington DC: National Academy of Sciences, 1982
3.) Willett W. Summary. In: Eat, Drink, and Be Healthy.  The Harvard Medical School Guide to Healthy Eating.
New York: Free Press, 2003
4.) World Cancer Research Fund/ American Institute for Cancer Research. Food, Nutrition, Physical
Activity, and the Prevention of Cancer: A Global Perspective.  Washington DC: AICR, 2007; p. 16
5.) ibid., p. 26
6.) ibid., p. 17


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