The study of what causes and prevents cancer can be a complex minefield of conflicting research, interpretation and opinion. There are countless lifestyle and environmental factors that can both increase and decrease the risk of developing cancer, and the many scientific studies on risk factors are often open to misinterpretation by the general public and the popular media.
Interactive Cancer Risk Matrix
That’s why we really like the user-friendly Interactive Cancer Risk Matrix from the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF). It’s an interactive bubble chart that shows the relationships between many different factors and cancer risk. Crucially it also shows the strength of the available evidence that a certain factor is involved in increased/decreased cancer risk. For example, it shows that physical activity shows a ‘convincing decreased risk’ of colorectal cancer, based on the available evidence. Whereas consuming foods containing retinol is only proven to show a ‘limited-suggestive decrease’ of preventing lung cancer.
A blueprint for cancer prevention
The Interactive Cancer Risk Matrix forms part of, and draws its evidence from, the 2018 report “Diet, Nutrition, Physical Activity and Cancer: a Global Perspective“, a truly epic collaboration between the World Cancer Research Fund International, The American Institute for Cancer Research, Wereld Kanker Onderzoek Fonds and the World Cancer Research Fund Hong Kong. We call it epic because the full report including all the accompanying resources is more than 12,000 pages long.
The report website describes it as “a blueprint for cancer prevention”, identifying authoritative, evidence-based recommendations on how to reduce the global burden of cancer through prevention.
Diet, Nutrition, Physical Activity and Cancer: a Global Perspective: You can download the full report, resources, or just the individual chapters, on the WCRF website.
Or you can just spend some time looking at the fascinating, user-friendly Interactive Cancer Risk Matrix bubble chart.