Diet & cancer research findings

Our researchers have explored which foods and dietary patterns are linked to cancer, and how to measure diets more accurately

Below are the results from some of the research we have funded.


Dietary determinants of fat mass in adolescents

Susan Jebb, at the University of Cambridge, looked at the association between dietary patterns and body fatness in children. This research found that children who followed a diet higher in energy density and fat and lower in fibre at ages 7, 10 and 13 were more likely to have higher levels of body fatness between the ages of 11 and 15.


Dairy and plant foods and advanced prostate cancer

Stephanie Smith-Warner, from the Harvard School of Public Health, examined associations between several dietary factors and risk of prostate cancer

This grant found red meat, processed meat and egg consumption were linked with higher risks of advanced prostate cancer. Poultry consumption was associated with a lower risk of advanced prostate cancer. Fruit and vegetable intakes were not associated with advanced prostate cancer risk.

Intakes of red meat, processed meat, seafood (fish and shellfish combined), poultry, and eggs were not associated with higher or lower risk of localised prostate cancer.


Dairy, meat, linolenic acid and soy consumption as risk factors for prostate, colorectal and breast cancer in AHS-2

Gary Fraser, at Loma Lind University, looked at several dietary items and the risk of prostate, colorectal, and breast cancer.

This research found that a vegetarian diet was associated with a slightly lower cancer risk (particularly in gastrointestinal cancers), and a vegan diet was associated with a lower risk of cancers of female organs and prostate cancer. A lower breast cancer risk was linked with consuming high levels of soy isoflavones. It was also found that cooked tomatoes were associated with lower prostate cancer risk.


Validation of the hair as a tissue to biomonitor PhIP, a carcinogenic heterocyclic aromatic amine

Loic Le Marchand, at the Univeristy of Hawaii, looked at using hair to detect long term exposure to PhIP, a carcinogen formed in cooked meat.

This study established the reliability of hair PhIP level as a biomarker for its exposure in the diet. This means that this marker can be used to investigate the association of PhIP and disease risk.


Plasma levels of alkylresorcinols and risk of colorectal cancer in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC)

Professor Anne Tjønneland, at the Danish Cancer Society Research Centre, investigated the association between wholegrain intake and colorectal cancer risk.

This research found that greater wholegrain intake was associated with lower distal and overall colon cancer incidence.