Confused about cancer and diet? Charity summarises 25 years of cancer prevention research

11 November 2015

A report from the World Cancer Research Fund which summarises the current state of scientific knowledge about cancer prevention through diet, weight and physical activity has been published to mark the 25th anniversary of the charity.

Cancer Prevention & Survival sets out the areas where there is strong evidence that diet, weight and physical activity affect people’s cancer risk, summarising 25 years of research in a simple report.

One of the dietary factors included is red meat and processed meat such as bacon, salami and ham - there is strong evidence that both red and processed meat increase the risk of bowel cancer. In fact, World Cancer Research Fund has been recommending that people reduce their consumption of red meat, and avoid processed meat, since 2007.

To celebrate its 25th birthday, the charity is also launching a new online version of its magazine Healthy You, designed to keep people interested in cancer prevention up-to-date with the latest findings and advice on what to do to reduce their cancer risk.

The charity’s Director Amanda McLean said: “In 1990, when World Cancer Research Fund was established, most people didn’t believe that cancer prevention was possible. We were the only UK charity highlighting the links between diet, weight, physical activity and cancer.

“Today there is much greater awareness, but with the wealth of information out there, there is also ample room for misunderstanding. The aim of both Cancer Prevention & Survival and Healthy You is to make our research on the issues of cancer prevention accessible to as wide an audience as possible.”

Cancer Prevention & Survival is the most up-to-date summary of findings from the charity’s Continuous Update Project (CUP) which continues to research the relationship between diet, nutrition, physical activity and cancer risk.

Other findings featured in the report include:

  • being overweight or obese increases the risk of 10 cancers
  • alcohol is linked to an increased risk of five cancers
  • being tall increases the risk of six cancers

The report also summarises what we know about the preventive role played by nutrition, diet and physical activity, highlighting that:

  • ‘non-starchy vegetables’ such as broccoli, cabbage, carrots and kale can reduce the risk of cancers of the mouth, oesophagus and stomach
  • physical activity decreases the risk of bowel, breast (post-menopause) and womb cancers
  • foods high in fibre decrease the risk of cancer of the bowel

Notes to editors:

A hard copy of Cancer Prevention & Survival: Summary of global evidence on diet, weight, physical activity & what increases or decreases your cancer risk can be obtained by emailing