Who we are

World Cancer Research Fund is a UK cancer prevention charity. We look at how diet, weight and physical activity affect the risk of developing and surviving cancer, and share the evidence with the public, health professionals and policymakers.

On this page:

> Our achievements
> Helping you
> Our research
> Our policy work
> Our values
> How we operate

As part of an international network of charities, we’ve been funding life-saving research, influencing global health policy and informing the public since 1982.

While society continues to search for a cure, our prevention and survival work helps people to live longer, healthier lives – free from the devastating effects of cancer. In September 2022, The Lancet, a major medical journal, said prevention is our best hope of reducing the global burden of cancer – a ringing endorsement of all that World Cancer Research Fund are trying to achieve.

We have invested more than £115m in cancer prevention and survival research, thanks to our amazing supporters! People like you support our work in many ways:

We’re also very grateful for support from businesses and trusts.

Around 40% of cancers in the UK could be prevented – that’s nearly 155,000 cases every year. Eating a healthy diet, being more active and staying a healthy weight are, after not smoking and avoiding the sun, the most important ways we can reduce our cancer risk.

Our achievements

Our Global Cancer Update Programme is the world’s largest database of research on cancer prevention and survival through diet, weight and physical activity. In autumn 2022, we published our review of evidence on a woman’s risk of dying after a breast cancer diagnosis.

We translate the results of our research into accurate, accessible, easy-to-understand information.

By funding research and delivering health information programmes – such as Living with cancer, for cancer survivors, and Eat Move Learn for children and families – we empower people to make healthier lifestyle choices.

Every year, we survey the UK public to see how awareness of what causes and what protects against cancer is changing.

When our charity was established, research into the links between diet and cancer was in its infancy. Now, scientists know that diet, weight and physical activity affect our risk of cancer, and people are increasingly aware of how environment and behaviour play a role.

Helping you

We share practical advice with the public and health professionals to help people reduce their risk of developing cancer, and to help more people survive cancer. All of our publications are reviewed by members of the public to ensure our information is understandable and relevant.

Our free health information includes:

Every spring, we celebrate Cancer Prevention Action Week. This campaign, with a different focus every year, encourages everyone to become more informed about their risk of developing cancer, and to take action to reduce that risk.

We are expanding our support for people living with and beyond cancer. We provide practical tips and advice – such as our Eat well during cancer booklet, recipes and online support groups where people with cancer can come together and share their stories as well as get personalised advice from an oncology dietitian. We also share the latest research on cancer survival.

We have a free package for health professionals to ensure our messages reach more people. The package includes workshops, webinars and a regular newsletter, Informed.

Our research

We fund 2 types of research. Firstly, we fund individual research projects through our regular grant programme. Every year, we award millions of pounds to scientists trying to find out more about what causes and what prevents cancer. Among our many research findings, we were among the first to prove that being overweight or obese is a cause of at least 12 different types of cancer.

Secondly, we fund the Global Cancer Update Programme, which collates all the evidence from scientists around the world – both our researchers and others – to understand more about the global picture of cancer and how to reduce the burden of this disease.

We have published 3 expert reports summarising the evidence on cancer prevention and survival, written and endorsed by cancer experts from around the world. From the findings, we produce Cancer Prevention Recommendations – these are a blueprint for individuals, health professionals and policymakers to reduce the burden of cancer. Many independent studies show that the more closely you follow our Recommendations, the lower your risk of developing cancer.

Our policy work

Preventing cancer is not only about informing the public and supporting people to make healthy choices. For people to eat well and be active, we need nutritious food at affordable prices, and we need safe spaces for people of all ages and abilities to be active.

To achieve this, we influence policymakers to develop and implement effective policies that help communities to follow our Cancer Prevention Recommendations.

We have a database of policies that governments have implemented to reduce obesity and encourage activity. This database is free to use and regularly updated. We also encourage, inform and guide the UK government by responding to consultations, so that it can make decisions that are beneficial to everyone and based on evidence.

We backed the sugary drinks levy that was introduced in the UK in 2018, and which led to the average sugar content of drinks decreasing by 29%. We also called for a watershed on junk food ads, which was announced in 2020.

We work closely with partners in Europe, through the CO-CREATE project, to reduce obesity among children and young people in a way that involves young people in the decisions being made.

Our official relations status with the World Health Organization means we can influence global policy as a respected, trusted authority on cancer prevention.

Our values

Evidence based

We are a global authority on preventing cancer. We’re continuously learning and evaluating, so that we can deliver excellent outcomes.

Inclusive

Everyone counts – we value, respect and trust each other.

Influential

We are collaborative, engaged and focused on maximising impact in all that we do.

Innovative

We are curious and creative; evolving and exploring so we can deliver solutions that make a real difference.

Empowering

We make every day meaningful, building and sharing our knowledge and allowing our passion to shine through.

How we operate

World Cancer Research Fund is registered with the Charity Commission in England and Wales (Registration Charity No. 1000739). Around 95% of our funding comes from the UK public, with the remainder from business, trusts and foundations.

World Cancer Research Fund is registered with the Fundraising Regulator and fully adheres to the Fundraising Code of Practice, which means we’re committed to fundraising practices that are open, fair, honest and legal.