For Immediate Release: February 10, 2011
Contact: Mya Rae Nelson 202-328-7744

AICR/WCRF Responds to Attack by the American Council on Science and Health (ACSH)

WASHINGTON, DC – The American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) is taking issue with a misleading statement released by the American Council on Science and Health (ACSH) that attacked the AICR/World Cancer Research Fund’s estimates on cancer preventability. AICR stands with the rest of WCRF global network of charities defending the science behind the estimates, which show that approximately 340,000 cases of cancer in United States could be prevented each year by a healthy diet, regular physical activity, and staying lean.

ACHS stated that the “[AICR and the]World Cancer Research Fund needs to do its homework.”

In calculating the preventability estimates, that is exactly what AICR and WCRF did. If ACHS had read the background materials of the estimates, it would have seen the thorough science behind them. Estimates on preventability were made for lifestyle factors judged to be convincing or probable causes of cancer in AICR/WCRF’s report, Food, Nutrition, Physical Activity and the Prevention of Cancer: a Global Perspective.

The expert report followed a transparent, objective, and rigorous methodology in its review of all relevant global scientific literature. AICR/WCRF’s 2009 report, Policy and Action for Cancer Prevention then used expert report data to determine how much cancer could be prevented through diet, physical activity and weight management. All methodology and sources was transparent and freely accessible.

Preventability estimates were calculated using most recent national data on:

  • Cancer risk associated with each lifestyle factor
  • Prevalence of low, moderate and high levels/consumption of each lifestyle factor in each country
  • Incidence of each cancer in the United States

ACHS states that, “The WCRF report is just an agenda driven piece…” This is false. AICR/WCRF is a not-for-profit cancer charity. AICR and its other member organizations receive support from individuals, not corporations.

It is regrettable that ACHS states: “Though ACSH is hardly opposed to the promotion of healthy lifestyle factors such as good diet and exercise, we do not think this will lead to 38 percent fewer breast cancer cases, 47 percent fewer annual cases of stomach cancer or a 45 percent decline in colon cancer, as the WCRF optimistically suggests.”

Regardless of what ACSH thinks, clear and convincing evidence supports the fact that many cancers are preventable. WCRF findings on the percent of cancer cases preventable are estimates and as AICR has stated, estimating cancer preventability is a complex prospect that involves making a number of assumptions. Yet the figures are not optimistic, they are based on the best available data. In fact, as the AICR/WCRF policy report stresses, these numbers should be considered conservative estimates.

AICR/WCRF’s findings on cancer preventability are also supported by major health organizations around the world. For example, the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Global Recommendations on Physical Activity for Health report reinforces the AICR/WCRF conclusion that regular physical activity can prevent many cases of breast and colon cancer, as well as other chronic diseases.

NOTE: The ACSH statement also mistakenly attributes a HealthDay article’s assertion that “cancer is the leading cause of death” to AICR/WCRF. In its materials, AICR/WCRF is careful to note that cancer is a leading cause of death.

To read the full reports and methodology behind the cancer preventability estimates, visit


The American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) is the cancer charity that fosters research on the relationship of nutrition, physical activity and weight management to cancer risk, interprets the scientific literature and educates the public about the results. It has contributed more than $96 million for innovative research conducted at universities, hospitals and research centers across the country. AICR has published two landmark reports that interpret the accumulated research in the field, and is committed to a process of continuous review. AICR also provides a wide range of educational programs to help millions of Americans learn to make dietary changes for lower cancer risk. Its award-winning New American Plate program is presented in brochures, seminars and on its website, AICR is part of the global network of charities that are dedicated to the prevention of cancer. The WCRF global network is led and unified by WCRF International, a membership association that operates as the umbrella organization for the network. The other charities in the WCRF network are World Cancer Research Fund in the UK (; Wereld Kanker Onderzoek Fonds in the Netherlands (; World Cancer Research Fund Hong Kong (; and Fonds Mondial de Recherche contre le Cancer in France (

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