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WCRF/AICR
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Embargoed Until:12:01 a.m. GMT, September 13, 2010
Contact: Glen Weldon 202-328-7744 g.weldon@aicr.org

Selected Updates of Largest, Most Comprehensive Report
on Cancer Prevention Released at International Conference

New Evidence from AICR/WCRF Continuous Update Project (CUP)
Supports Expert Panel’s Prevention Recommendations
Regarding Body Fat, Alcohol

LONDON- Today, at an international conference on diet, physical activity, weight and cancer prevention, two major reviews of research into the causes of colon cancer will be presented, both of which lend further support to existing recommendations for the prevention of cancer from the American Institute for Cancer Research and World Cancer Research Fund and (AICR/WCRF).

The first review has added further evidence that carrying excess fat around the waist is particularly harmful. The second major review has confirmed that alcohol consumption increases risk of colon cancer—and suggests the increase in risk is larger for men than for women.

Both reviews, carried out on behalf of AICR/WCRF, have updated the findings of AICR/WCRF’s landmark 2007 report, which found convincing evidence that being overweight and consuming alcohol both increase colon cancer risk.

The findings of that report, Food, Nutrition, Physical Activity and the Prevention of Cancer: A Global Perspective, are periodically updated on a cancer-by-cancer basis as part of the AICR/WCRF Continuous Update Project (CUP). An update on breast cancer evidence was released last year.

Body Fat Further Implicated in Colon Cancer Risk

The review on body fat and colon cancer, updated with recent research, will be presented at an international scientific conference in London today.

The latest findings have further strengthened the evidence that being overweight is an important risk factor for colon cancer. AICR/WCRF recommends people aim to be as lean as possible without becoming underweight.

Professor Martin Wiseman, Medical and Scientific Adviser for AICR and WCRF, said: “This latest study adds to the already strong evidence that carrying excess body fat increases your risk of cancer.

“In fact, scientists now say that, after not smoking, maintaining a healthy weight is the most important thing you can do for cancer prevention.

“But as well as confirming the link between body fat and colon cancer, this study has strengthened the evidence that where we carry the fat is also important. This means that people who do have a large waist should consider losing weight even if they are in the normal BMI range.”

Dr. Teresa Norat, the Lead Researcher for the Review, said: “This study indicates that people should pay attention to the abdominal fatness even in they are in the normal range of weight, and it confirms that being overweight increases risk of this type of cancer, which affects about 154,000 people in the US every year.

“This study gives us a better picture on how body fat affects risk of colon cancer. More research is needed to understand how abdominal fatness can be prevented in both normal and overweight individuals.”

Alcohol Worse for Colon Cancer Risk in Men

The findings of the review on alcohol and colon cancer cause experts concern because men in the US drink significantly more alcohol than women.

Although the evidence of the link of alcohol intake and colon cancer appears to be stronger in men than in women, this review shows that the effect of alcohol in cancer of the rectum may be of similar magnitude in both men and women.

The study is an update of the findings on colon cancer and alcohol from AICR/WCRF’s 2007 Expert Report.

And while the findings highlight the importance for men of limiting their alcohol intake, experts have emphasized that alcohol is also an important cancer risk factor for women. This is because there is convincing evidence that alcohol increases risk of breast cancer. Now, this report finds that alcohol increases the risk of rectal cancer in women as well.

AICR/WCRF recommends that if people do drink alcohol, they limit consumption to two drinks a day for a man and one for a woman.

“This large review of the evidence confirms that drinking alcohol is a risk factor for colon cancer,” said AICR/WCRF’s Wiseman.

“In fact, we estimate about 7,700 of the roughly 154,000 cases of colon cancer diagnosed in the US every year can be attributed to alcohol. So it is clear that people could make a real difference by drinking less.

“Despite the strong evidence that alcohol increases cancer risk, many people in the US are still not aware of the link. This is why we need to do more to get the message across to people, because by raising awareness we can give people the information they need to make their own informed choice.”

Norat added, “The link between alcohol and colon cancer is an area where there has been a lot of research in the last few years. Although the existing evidence is less consistent for an effect of alcohol on colon cancer in women, this review suggests that the effect of alcohol on rectal cancer may be similar in men and women.

“The findings show that people – and particularly men – who want to reduce their colon cancer risk can do so by reducing the amount of alcohol they drink.”


Note to Editors:

  • The two reviews will be presented as abstracts in a poster session at the WCRF conference Current Challenges, New Horizons, at the College of Physicians in London.
  • The reviews on body fat and alcohol are selected updates from the upcoming AICR/WCRF update on colon cancer, which will address many additional risk factors including red and processed meat, physical activity, fruit and vegetable intake and dietary fiber.

***

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, www.aicr.org. 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 (www.wcrf-uk.org); Wereld Kanker Onderzoek Fonds in the Netherlands (www.wcrf-nl.org); World Cancer Research Fund Hong Kong (www.wcrf-hk.org); and Fonds Mondial de Recherche contre le Cancer in France (www.fmrc.fr).


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