Study Highlights Importance of Greater Adherence To Cancer Prevention Recommendations


The findings suggest that greater adherence to the WCRF/AICR Cancer Prevention Recommendations could greatly reduce the risk of all cancers combined, along with 14 others.

New study findings demonstrate that better adherence to the World Cancer Research Fund/American Institute for Cancer Research (WCRF/AICR) cancer prevention recommendations is linked to a lower risk of all cancers combined, along with other individual cancers. Published in BMC Medicine, the researchers conducted an investigative study that assessed relations among total score and cancer risk in the United Kingdom.1,2

Image credit: NicoElNino |

Image credit: NicoElNino |

The WCRF and AICR published 10 cancer prevention recommendations and updated them in 2018.1 The recommendations encourage individuals to maintain a healthy weight; participate in physical activity; and to eat a diet that is rich in whole grains, vegetables, fruit, and beans but low in highly processed foods, red and processed meat, sugar-sweetened drinks, and alcohol.2

The study authors used data from the UK Biobank prospective cohort study to analyze cancer risk in all invasive cancers, along with 14 specific and independent cancers: prostate, breast, colorectal, lung, kidney, uterine, bladder, ovarian, pancreatic, head and neck, esophageal, stomach, liver, and gallbladder.1

The UK Biobank study was conducted between 2006 and 2010 and included more than 500,000 individuals that were 37 to 73 years old. The individuals were required to answer a questionnaire that collected self-reported data on diet and overall health.1

Researchers then used data from 94,778 individuals in the UK Biobank study that were an average of 56 years old. The participants were scored from 0 to 7 points based on adherence to recommendations from their body mass index, waist circumference measurements, and dietary and physical activity data.2

The researchers included the individuals' age, sex, socioeconomic status, ethnicity, and smoking status to analyze the adherence to the WCRF/AICR recommendations. According to the study authors, they also used cancer registry data to calculate the frequency of new cancers that could develop over an 8-year period.2

The average adherence score was 3.8 points, and 7296 (8%) individuals were reported to develop cancer as they underwent the study. This was found in a median follow-up of 7.9 years.1,2 The 3 most common cancers that developed included prostate with 1818 cases, breast with 1438 cases (1284 among women 50 years and older), and colorectal with 868 cases, according to study authors.1

“The authors found that greater adherence to the WCRF/AICR recommendations was associated with a lower risk of all cancers combined, with each 1-point increase in recommendation adherence score associated with a 7% lower risk. Compared to those with an adherence score of 3.5 points or less, those with a score of 4.5 points or above had a 16% lower risk of all cancers combined,” said the authors, in a press release.2

The findings also found the 1-point increase was connected to a 10% lower risk of breast cancer and colorectal cancer, an 18% lower risk of kidney cancer, a 16% lower risk of esophageal cancer, a 22% lower risk of liver cancer, a 24% lower risk of ovarian cancer, and a 30% lower risk of gallbladder cancer.2

The findings suggest that greater adherence to the WCRF/AICR Cancer Prevention Recommendations could greatly reduce the risk of all cancers combined, along with breast, colorectal, kidney, esophageal, ovarian, liver, and gallbladder cancers.1

However, the study authors noted that additional research should be conducted to assess the specific recommendations that could impact the recommendations adherence with the cancer risks.2

  1. Adherence to the 2018 World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF)/American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) Cancer Prevention Recommendations and risk of 14 lifestyle-related cancers in the UK Biobank prospective cohort study. BMC Medicine. News release. November 28, 2023. Accessed February 2, 2024.
  2. Health: Greater adherence to lifestyle recommendations associated with lower cancer risk. EurekAlert!. News release. November 27, 2023. Accessed February 2, 2024.
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