‘Blueprint to beat cancer’ launched today

The World Cancer Research Fund, a UK charity which funds and supports scientific research on how to prevent cancer, announces today its ten, updated Cancer Prevention Recommendations as a blueprint to beat cancer.

Lifestyles featuring little exercise and lots of fast and processed food are fuelling overweight and obesity, resulting in dramatic increases in cancer rates worldwide, according to a new report published today from World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF), leading authority on the links between diet, weight, physical activity and cancer prevention and survival.

A quote to represent the stats associated with the new blueprint for beating cancer

Today, leading researchers, scientists, policymakers and other opinion-formers in the field will gather at the Royal Society in central London on 24 May to hear key findings from the new WCRF report, and its latest Cancer Prevention Recommendations. They will debate their implications for future cancer research directions, how to translate them into public health and policy action, and the implications for cancer survivorship.

The report

The new report – Diet, Nutrition, Physical Activity and Cancer: a Global Perspective – is the result of an ongoing review of decades of evidence by world-renowned, independent experts from across the globe. The report provides evidence for a collection of behaviours that, when followed together, represent the most reliable ‘blueprint’ available for living healthily to reduce cancer risk

Around one in six deaths annually worldwide are due to cancer. In the UK in 2015, 359,734 cases of cancer were diagnosed. As more countries adopt ‘Western’ lifestyles, the number of new cases of cancer is expected to rise by 58% to 24 million globally per year by 2035. Whats more, as WCRF’s latest report indicates, the quality of diet and levels of activity of most people living in wealthy societies do not encourage healthy ageing, so further impact on cancer rates is anticipated as populations age worldwide.

Key findings

  • WCRF’s latest Cancer Prevention Recommendations provide a proven blueprint for beating cancer, if followed collectively and across your lifetime, because they are informed by the most reliable scientific evidence available globally.
  • Overweight and obesity increase cancer risk. WCRF’s latest findings show that being overweight or obese is a cause of at least 12 cancers**, including pancreatic cancer, five more than WCRF findings a decade ago
  • Regularly drinking sugar-sweetened drinks increases your cancer risk, because it causes weight gain, overweight and obesity.
  • Being physically active can help protect directly from three cancers [bowel (colon), breast (post-menopause) and womb (endometrium)], and also helps people maintain a healthy weight, reducing further their cancer risk.
  • A healthy diet featuring wholegrains, vegetables, fruit and pulses and low in red and processed meat reduces your cancer risk.
  • Drinking alcohol is strongly linked to an increased risk of six cancers***. This is one more (stomach cancer) than WCRF findings a decade ago.

Dr Kate Allen, WCRF’s Executive Director of Science & Public Affairs, said: “Our research shows it’s unlikely that specific foods or nutrients are important single factors in causing or protecting against cancer. Rather, different patterns of diet and physical activity throughout life combine to make you more or less susceptible to cancer. Our Cancer Prevention Recommendations work together as a blueprint to beat cancer that people can trust, because they are based on evidence that has now proved consistent for decades.

WCRF’s ten recommendations 

A diagram to represent the 10 key recommendations in the blueprint to beat cancer by WCRF

Check with your health professional what is right for you

  • Not smoking and avoiding other exposure to tobacco and excess sun are also important in reducing cancer risk.
  • Following these Recommendations is likely to reduce intakes of salt, saturated and trans fats, which together will help prevent other non-communicable diseases.

Cancer Health Check tool

WCRF is also today launching a brand new, online Cancer Health Check tool. By answering some simple questions about your lifestyle, you can see which areas you are doing well in, and which areas you could make changes in, to reduce your cancer risk.

However, cancer prevention depends not only on individual choices but also on governments creating an environment that encourages lifelong healthy eating and a physically active lifestyle. WCRF today calls on governments to prioritise cancer prevention through the development and implementation of effective policies to address the rising burden of cancer in the UK and worldwide. WCRF representatives are currently at the 71st World Health Assembly in Geneva (21-26 May), reinforcing this message.

[**Liver, ovary, prostate (advanced), stomach (cardia), mouth and throat (mouth, pharynx and larynx) join bowel (colorectum), breast (post-menopause), gallbladder, kidney, oesophagus (oesophageal adenocarcinoma), pancreas and womb (endometrium).]

[***Bowel (colorectum), breast (both pre- and post-menopause), liver, mouth and throat (pharynx and larynx), oesophagus (squamous cell carcinoma) and stomach.]