'Fingerprint' in the blood is linked to prostate cancer risk

05 July 2017 | News, Science and research

Dr Travis leads a research project that we fund at the University of Oxford.

My current project is exploring a new field of research that has the potential to uncover ways of preventing prostate cancer through improved diet and lifestyle.

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in British men, so this research is incredibly important and it would not be possible without the support of World Cancer Research Fund.

What the study found

This new area of research is known as metabolomics and it measures small molecules in the blood called metabolites.

Our study found that the levels of different metabolites that make up a man’s metabolic ‘fingerprint’ in the blood were linked with his risk of developing prostate cancer.

How does this relate to my daily life?

The levels of different metabolites present in someone’s blood are partly determined by diet and lifestyle. This means that the ‘fingerprint’ of metabolites in the blood could give us new insights into how diet and lifestyle can affect prostate cancer risk.

The next stage of the project will focus on working out precisely how diet and lifestyle factors can affect the pattern of metabolites in the blood. This will help us achieve our ultimate aim of fully understanding how diet and lifestyle can help prevent prostate cancer.

Making a difference

There is already strong evidence that maintaining a healthy weight is associated with a reduced risk of aggressive types of prostate cancer.

However, if more risk factors for prostate cancer are uncovered, this could help us prevent many more cases, particularly the more aggressive types. 


World Cancer Research Fund funds and supports vital scientific research into cancer prevention. All of our research has the same objective – to improve our understanding of cancer risk and how to reduce it.

Dr Ruth Travis | 05 July 2017