World Cancer Congress, 3-6 December 2014, Melbourne, Australia

The UICC World Cancer Congress (WCC) is the leading international conference on cancer

The Congress, which is in its 23rd year, was an important opportunity for us to update delegates on World Cancer Research Fund International’s research and policy activities to prevent cancer through food, nutrition, physical activity and body fatness.

World Cancer Research Fund International led two sessions at the World Cancer Congress this year, as part of the 'Cancer prevention and screening' track. Additionally, we participated in a third session with the International Agency for Research on Cancer and also exhibited throughout the Congress at stand 49 in the Global Village.

Our presentations from the Congress can be viewed via the links below:

Session 1 (4 December, 10.30am - 12 noon): Connecting risk factors to the burden of cancer: Global cancer preventability in the 21st century – International Agency for Research on Cancer, France & World Cancer Research Fund International, UK

Chaired by: Dr Rachel Thompson (World Cancer Research Fund International) & Dr Isabelle Soerjomataram (International Agency for Research on Cancer).

This session gave an overview of the most important known causes of cancer worldwide; excess body weight and tobacco. It included findings from the World Cancer Research Fund International grant awarded to the International Agency for Research on Cancer entitled 'Preventable and attributable global burden of cancer due to excess body mass index in adults'


  1. Measuring the impact of major risk factors on the global burden of cancer and the potential for prevention
    Dr David Forman – International Agency for Research on Cancer, France
  2. Global cancer incidence attributable to excess body mass index: the state of the art
    Dr Isabelle Soerjomataram – International Agency for Research on Cancer, France
  3. The hazards of smoking and the benefits of cessation on cancer mortality worldwide
    Professor Prabhat Jha – University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada
  4. Putting together epidemiological, clinical and biological evidence to estimate global cancer preventability
    Professor David Whiteman – QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute, Australia
  5. The future of cancer prevention: setting realistic goals and time frame
    Dr Christopher Wild – International Agency for Research on Cancer

Session 2 (4 December, 4pm - 5.30pm): Reducing the global cancer burden through policy action on diet, physical inactivity and alcohol: what policies are needed for high impact and how to advocate their wider implementation – World Cancer Research Fund International and Cancer Council Victoria, Australia

Chaired by: Dr Kate Allen (World Cancer Research Fund International) & Dr Timothy Armstrong (World Health Organization).

Our policy goal is to see the wider implementation of more effective policies that enable people to follow the World Cancer Research Fund International’s Cancer Prevention Recommendations.

This session assessed what policy actions are needed, and how to advance their implementation to reduce the global burden of cancer. Policies on diet, alcohol and physical activity would help to achieve the World Cancer Declaration Target 3: 'Global tobacco consumption, obesity and alcohol intake levels will have fallen significantly.'


Two panels delivered the presentations in this session. Panel one comprised three short presentations on unhealthy diet, alcohol and physical activity. Each speaker described a strategic approach to identifying high-impact policies and explore the range and types of evidence available to inform policy choice.

  1. What are the high-impact policies to improve prevention outcomes? (Diet)
    Dr Corinna Hawkes – World Cancer Research Fund International, UK

    Corinna Hawkes is Head of Policy and Public Affairs at World Cancer Research Fund International. She presented the evidence supporting the comprehensive package of food policies needed to prevent obesity and diet-related non-communicable diseases (NCDs).

  2. What are the high-impact policies to improve prevention outcomes? (Alcohol)
    Dr Thaksaphon Thamarangsi - International Health Policy Program, Thailand

    Dr Thamarangsi leads the Center for Alcohol Studies at the International Health Policy Program in Thailand and is recognised internationally as a leader on health promotion policies. He examined the evidence-based policy options to address alcohol as a major risk factor for NCDs.

  3. What are the high-impact policies to improve prevention outcomes? (Physical Activity)
    Professor Fiona Bull - The University of Western Australia, Australia

    Professor Fiona Bull is a regular advisor to the World Health Organization on approaches to promote physical activity. Her presentation focused on effective policies to promote participation in physical activity across different settings (community, school, workplace, and primary health care).

    Panel two explored how to build effective advocacy to encourage implementation of high-impact prevention policies. It included examples of best practice in coalition building and efforts to create a social movement among the public around NCDs.

  4. A united policy front: lessons learnt by coalitions for cancer prevention
    Jane Martin - Cancer Council Victoria, Australia

    Jane Martin has worked in public health advocacy for over twenty-five years in tobacco control, obesity prevention and alcohol control. She talked about how diverse organisations can form policy coalitions to pool their collective expertise to become more effective advocates for prevention policies.

  5. Youth leadership in creating a global social movement around NCDs
    Dr Alessandro Demaio - University of Copenhagen, Denmark & University of Harvard, USA

    Dr Alessandro Demaio is co-founder of NCDFREE, a global movement promoting a NCD free world. He leads the PLOS blog "Translational Global Health" and discussed the role of youth leadership in harnessing social media and engaging the public to encourage policy action.

Session 3 (6 December, 11.45am -1.15pm): The World Cancer Research Fund International Continuous Update Project (CUP): Novel Aspects and Latest Results

Chaired by: Dr Kate Allen - World Cancer Research Fund International

The Continuous Update Project (CUP) is our ongoing analysis of global cancer prevention research that provides up-to-date evidence on how people can reduce their cancer risk through food, nutrition, physical activity and body fatness. It is the largest data analysis and interpretation research project of its kind.

This session provided participants with the latest results from the CUP. It focused on prostate cancer and on early life exposures and cancer prevention, as well as presented a new CUP project that is developing a robust methodology for reviewing mechanistic studies in the area of food, nutrition, physical activity and body fatness.


  1. Introduction to World Cancer Research Fund International’s Continuous Update Project (CUP)
    Dr Rachel Thompson - World Cancer Research Fund International

    Head of Research Interpretation at World Cancer Research Fund International, Dr Rachel Thompson, presented information about the findings emerging from the CUP.

  2. What is the epidemiological evidence linking early life events and cancer risk and what are the potential critical windows for cancer prevention?
    Professor Ricardo Uauy - University of Chile, Chile

    This presentation focused on the latest CUP results on early life exposures and cancer.

  3. Ethnic differences, obesity and cancer, stages of the obesity epidemic and cancer prevention
    Professor Tai Hing Lam - University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong

    Through his extensive work in the area of racial and ethnic differences across the life-course, Professor Tai Hing Lam explored the possibility that variation in cancer incidence among different ethnic groups might be in part explained by their different patterns of early growth.

  4. Epidemiological evidence linking food, nutrition, physical activity and prostate cancer risk: results from the CUP
    Professor Michael Leitzmann - Regensburg University Medical Center, Germany

    Professor Michael Leitzmann has published extensively on prostate cancer. He discussed the newly published CUP findings on prostate cancer, focusing on the potential role of milk and/or calcium.

  5. New methods for reviewing mechanistic evidence
    Professor Richard Martin - University of Bristol, UK

    Professor Richard Martin is co-principal investigator on developing a methodology for systematically reviewing mechanistic studies. He addressed the need for better synthesis of experimental data and its integration with the epidemiology as a basis for drawing causal inferences.