For over a decade, researchers have investigated the effect of AICR’s Cancer Prevention Recommendations on cancer risk and other health measures. These studies, published in scientific journals, all start with specific groups of people who enter the study cancer-free. The studies then determine how each person’s adherence to the recommendations links to certain health outcomes over time.
Many of these papers have focused on breast and colon cancers, two of the most common types of tumors. Research suggests findings on these common cancers may apply to many other tumors; research is ongoing for these and other cancer types.
Overall Risk Reduction & a Longer Life
Recommendations Associated with Reduced Mortality Risk from all Causes, Cancer And Heart Disease
- A new study led by a team at the National Cancer Institute (NCI), conducted in collaboration with the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) and American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) and published in Current Developments in Nutrition, examined health behaviors and mortality risk in a cohort of over 175,000 older (50-71 years of age at recruitment) Americans. They found that following a lifestyle aligned with the 2018 WCRF/AICR Cancer Prevention Recommendations was associated with a significant reduction in risk of all-cause, cancer-specific and cardiovascular-specific mortality.
Adherence to Recommendations Reduced the Risk of Total Cancer
- One of the most recent studies, published in 2020, included approximately 54,000 men and women from Sweden. The study scored each person’s adherence to AICR’s 2018 recommendations and how that linked to cancer incidence over about 15 years. The paper concluded that adherence to AICR’s 2018 recommendations substantially reduced the risk of total cancer, with greater adherence leading to lower risk.
Following Recommendations Can Help People Live Longer
- According to a large study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, following the recommendations can help people live longer. The study included almost 379,000 Europeans who entered the study in the 1990s. After a median follow-up of 13 years, those who adhered to AICR’s recommendations the most had a 34 percent lower risk of dying during that time compared to those who least adhered to the recommendations. Lower risk was found for dying from cancer, circulatory disease, and respiratory disease.
For Each Dietary Recommendation Followed, Risk of Cancer Postponed by 1.6 Years
- A paper published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention sought to answer whether AICR’s dietary recommendations applied to older people. The study analyzed data from approximately 360,000 participants who were part of seven population studies across Europe and the United States. All were over 60 and cancer-free when they entered their study. Each person was scored on his/her adherence to four dietary-focused recommendations. After a median of 11 to 15 years across the studies, this analysis found that the more people adhered to the dietary recommendations the lower their cancer risk.
The paper concluded that the risk of cancer could be postponed by about 1.6 years in those ages 60 and above for each additional WCRF/AICR dietary recommendation followed.
Recommendations Can Help People Avoid Premature Death
- Adhering to AICR’s recommendations can help people avoid premature death and specifically, dying from cancer, reported a study in 2016. This paper included data from close to 17,000 Swiss adults who were between the ages of 25 and 74 when they joined one of two studies. Using census records to track mortality, the paper found that participants who reported adhering the most to AICR’s recommendations had a lower risk of dying from any cause during the 22-year follow-up when compared to those who least followed the recommendations. The study concluded that lower risk of dying from cancer was found among men and if lifestyle score levels had been higher, an estimated 13 percent of premature cancer deaths in men could be preventable.
Better Adherence to Recommendations Contributes to Lower Overall Cancer Incidence
- AICR’s Cancer Prevention Recommendations was one of four dietary/lifestyle recommendations tested for its association to cancer prevention in a 2018 paper published in Cancer Research. With almost 42,000 participants, this study scored how participants adhered to each set of recommendations. Study participants, who were all over the age of 40, were part of a French, web-based study and they supplied lifestyle and other data from 2009 to 2017. All four of the nutrition/lifestyle recommendations lowered cancer risk to some extent, but the paper concluded that the AICR score performed best. Better adherence to AICR’s recommendations contributes to lower overall cancer incidence, along with reduced breast and prostate cancers.
Adherence to the Recommendations Associated with 10-61 Percent Lower Risk of Cancer Incidence and Mortality
- A 2016 study pulled together twelve previous papers that had each looked at adherence to cancer prevention guidelines for diet and physical activity, which included AICR’s recommendations. Each of the studies had then collected data on how adherence related to overall cancer incidence and mortality. Based on all the studies, the paper concluded that the highest adherence to the cancer prevention recommendations was “consistently and significantly associated with 10-61 percent lower risk of cancer incidence and mortality” compared to those who least followed the recommendations.
*In 2018 AICR updated our recommendations; meaning the majority of published papers used the 2007 Cancer Prevention Recommendations.