Summer 2006    Vol. 14, Issue 1

The influence of diet and nutrition on cancer causation and prevention has been at the center of nutrition and health controversy at least since 1980, when the National Academy of Sciences issued a landmark report culminating in dietary recommendations to lower cancer risk. Over the past two decades, several other authoritative organizations, including the U.S. National Cancer Institute, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the American Institute for Cancer Research, have followed with updated reviews of the evidence, accompanied by dietary guidelines. Essentially, these reports point to the complex and tentative state of knowledge on this topic. The summer 2006 issue of the MONITOR is devoted to summarizing this knowledge, and to examining dietary and public health policy guidelines to lower cancer risk.

In the lead article, Dr. Laurence Kolonel from the Cancer Research Center of Hawaii provides an overview of the evidence on diet and cancer, highlighting the benefits of a high intake of fruits and vegetables, as well as the general consensus among authorities on dietary guidance to reduce cancer risk.

In the Insider’s View, Junshi Chen of the Institute of Nutrition and Food Safety in Beijing points to increasing mortality from diet-related cancers in China, perhaps because of the increasingly apparent transition to a high-fat, low-fiber diet and a rise in obesity rates among the Chinese.

Features author Suzanne Murphy from the Cancer Research Center of Hawaii presents an analysis of research on dietary supplements and cancer, concluding that the evidence of benefits is meager and high-dose supplementations do pose some health risks.

In Policy Beat, Colin Tukuitonga of WHO provides insight into the development of WHO’s 2004 Global Strategy on Diet, Physical Activity and Health, emphasizing the roles and importance of various stakeholders in implementing this comprehensive set of policy options.

Finally, CECHE News reports on the progress of two of CECHE’s collaborative programs: a dietary approach to cardiovascular disease prevention, led by the Center for Science in the Public Interest; and the impact of “Orange Health-e,” an electronic newsletter developed for campus-wide health education at Syracuse University in collaboration with the institution’s Newhouse School for Public Communications.

Based on our experts’ discussions and international data, it is apparent that the complexity of diet and its relationship to cancer will continue to pose a challenge to researchers, policy-makers and the general public for some time to come!

Sushma Palmer, D.Sc.
Chairman, CECHE

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