Cancer Reserch Update

Issue 70 — May 18, 2011

Also in this issue:

  1. In Brief: Cut Your Food; Cut Your Calories
  2. Shopping for Taste, Price and Health
  3. Eating Mediterranean Links to Lower Cancer Risk
  4. Supplement Mix Ineffective against Prostate Cancer

The 7 Habits of Highly Successful Weight Losers

Woman on medical ScaleMore physical activity, less inactivity and eating breakfast rank among the most common behavioral strategies adopted by a group of people who have successfully lost weight and maintained their weight loss, according to a new review of approximately 6,000 self-selected individuals who make up the National Weight Control Registry (NWCR).

Founded in 1994, NWCR asked adults to join who had maintained a weight loss of 30 pounds or more for at least one year. Members had all maintained their lower weight for an average of more than five years by the time they enrolled.

Although almost all NWCR members (89 percent) reported combining both diet and physical activity to lose weight, one of the most common and prominent behaviors was the high amount of physical activity, says James O. Hill, PhD, director of the Center for Human Nutrition of the University of Colorado and one of the founders of the NWCR.

"What we find over and over is that physical activity is very, very important," says Hill, who has also presented at the AICR Annual Research Conference. "I suspect it's maybe the strongest key."

Seven Habits of Successful Weight Loss Maintainers

  1. High levels of physical activity: more than one half of NWCR members expend more than 2,000 kcal week.
  2. Limit television watching: about 63% of NWCR members report watching less than 10 hours per week of television.
  3. Low-calorie, low-fat diet: NWCR members report consuming 1,380 kcal day, with less than 30% of calories from fat.
  4. Consistent diet: NWCR members tend to eat the same foods regularly and do not ''splurge'' on high-calorie foods on weekends, holidays or other special occasions.
  5. Breakfast consumption: at least 78% of NWCR members report eating breakfast daily, which may help curb hunger and overeating later in the day.
  6. High dietary restraint and low disinhibition: NWCR members report exerting high levels of control over their eating, and they rarely overeat in response to internal (e.g., emotional) or external (e.g., availability of highly palatable food) cues.
  7. Self-monitoring: more than one half of NWCR members weigh themselves at least weekly and track their daily food intake.

Source: The National Weight Control Registry: A Study of 'Successful Losers.

No matter what their age, gender or weight, NWCR members appear to exercise frequently and consistently. More than one half of NWCR members expended more than 2,000 calories each week, equaling about 200 minutes per week of moderate-intensity exercise. (AICR Guidelines for Cancer Prevention suggests 30 minutes or more of physical activity daily.) "Based on these findings, I believe physical With your gernerous support, AICR funds reserach in diet, physical activity and weight management. Please donate now.activity is the key to long term weight maintenance… if you're not doing physical activity you have to eat so few calories and it's hard for people to do that."

Whatever the final successful strategy of individual NWCR members, over 90 percent of members reported a history of previous weight loss attempts, losing and then regaining the weight.

"These aren't people who did it just once and were successful: they failed many times before, and the message is 'don't give up,'" notes Hill. "This is only one small group of people: we don't know how many people are out there, and these people, almost to a person, tell us it's all worth it, they feel better and life is better than when they were obese or overweight."

Excerpted from ScienceNow.

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In Brief: Cut Your Food; Cut Your Calories

Croissant cut in twoSlicing up your snacks may lead to eating less without even realizing it, suggests a small study published in this month's Journal of the American Dietetic Association.

The study set 54 participants on a computer task and offered them gummy candies for snacking. The participants, all a healthy weight and unaware of the experiment, were randomly split into two groups: One group was offered a platter of 20 full-size candies; the second group was offered 40 half-size candies. Of the 33 participants – almost all women – who ate the candy, both groups ate about the same number of pieces.

The smaller snacking size led to the half-size candy eaters consuming approximately half the grams and 60 calories fewer than those offered the full size snacks.

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Source: Marchiori D, Waroquier L, Klein O. "Smaller Food Item Sizes of Snack Foods Influence Reduced Portions and Caloric Intake in Young Adults." J Am Diet Assoc. 2011 May;111(5):727-31.

Research Roundup


Shopping for Taste, Price and Health

When deciding which foods and beverages to purchase, taste remains the top driving force for almost nine out of ten Americans, but cost is a growing consideration and the healthfulness of foods remains important, according to a recent annual survey by the International Food Information Council (IFIC).

Activity Pie Chart

Perceived Physical Activity

The 2011 Food & Health Survey found that cost was the largest growing motivator for food and beverage decisions over the last five years: 79 percent of consumers now say they are taking price into account when shopping, a 15 percent increase from the 2006 survey. The survey found that lower prices are the top driver that would lead Americans to make more healthful food choices. Two-thirds of Americans are motivated by the healthfulness of foods in their purchasing decisions, and over half take convenience and sustainability into account.

The Web survey was conducted on a representative sample of 1,000 American adults during March and April 2011.

Highlights of the Food & Health Survey include:

  • Almost half of Americans say they are sedentary, a significant increase from the 37 percent reported in 2010.
  • Compared to previous years, more Americans report their overall diet is healthy, with about half saying their diet is at least "somewhat healthful;" 14 percent report their diet is not healthy.
  • Approximately a quarter of Americans are not doing anything about their weight, which is significantly fewer than reported in previous years, although over half of those surveyed see themselves as overweight or obese.
  • Americans' concern about sodium remains stable (53 percent) despite the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommending Americans significantly lower their sodium intake.
  • Only nine percent of Americans can accurately estimate the number of calories they should consume in a day for a person of their age, height, weight and physical activity.

View the full The 2011 Food & Health Survey: Consumer Attitudes toward Food Safety, Nutrition, and Health, conducted at IFIC.

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Eating Mediterranean Links to Lower Cancer Risk

Mediterranean SaladEating a diet filled with fruits, nuts, healthy oils, vegetables, legumes, and fish markers of the Mediterranean diet reduces the risk of cancer overall, and especially lowers the risk of tobacco-related cancers, suggests a new study published in the British Journal of Cancer.

The study pulled data from The European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition, a study of diet and health including approximately 500,000 adults from ten European countries. Researchers scored how much participants followed the traditional Mediterranean diet on a scale of 0 to 9: the higher the score, the closer they adhered to the diet. Higher numbers were assigned to consumption of vegetables, legumes, fruits, nuts, cereals and fish, moderate alcohol consumption, as well as low intake of meat, meat products, and dairy.

After tracking participants for almost nine years, the study found that the more closely diets matched the Mediterranean diet, the lower the risk of cancer. Overall, 4.7 percent of cancers in men and 2.4 percent of cancer in women could be prevented if everyone shifted to the highest group of following the Mediterranean diet. The relationship of lower risk and the Mediterranean diet was strongest for lung cancer and other tobacco-related cancers.

Source: E Couto , P Boffetta et al. "Mediterranean dietary pattern and cancer risk in the EPIC cohort." British Journal of Cancer 104, 14931499 (26 April 2011)

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supplement pillsSupplement Mix Ineffective against Prostate Cancer

Adding to the evidence that supplements of selenium and vitamin E do not prevent prostate cancer, a new clinical study that added soy to the mix found that the supplements do not prevent the progression of prostate cancer.

The study, published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, investigated the effectiveness of the supplements on approximately 300 Canadian men who had a condition abbreviated as HGPIN (high-grade prostatic intraepithelial neoplasia). HGPIN is theorized to precede the development of the most common form of prostate cancer.

Twice per day, one group of men consumed a supplement consisting of soy protein, vitamin E, and selenium; the other group swallowed a placebo. Neither the men nor the researchers knew who was in which group. At the end of three years, the nutritional supplement had no effect on the development of prostate cancer.

The study results are consistent with those of the major Selenium and Vitamin E Cancer Prevention Trial (SELECT), which was stopped after five years of tracking approximately 35,000 participants. Based on the expert report, AICR does not recommend using supplements to protect against cancer prevention.

Source: Fleshner NE et al. "Progression From High-Grade Prostatic Intraepithelial Neoplasia to Cancer: A Randomized Trial of Combination Vitamin-E, Soy, and Selenium." J Clin Oncol. 2011 May 2 (published online).

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