Once again the Scottish Cancer Prevention Network has invited members, colleagues and regular SCPN newsletter contributors to recommend what they have been reading on cancer prevention during 2016. We’ve asked each one to recommend the paper they thought would be most valuable to share. This paper has been nominated by Professor Nanette Mutrie MBE CPsychol FBASES FHEPA-Europe, Director of Physical Activity for Health Research Centre, University of Edinburgh.


Title: Adherence to Diet and Physical Activity Cancer Prevention Guidelines and Cancer Outcomes: A Systematic Review.

 Authors: Kohler, L. N., Garcia, D. O., Harris, R. B., Oren, E., Roe, D. J., & Jacobs, E. T.

Weblink: http://cebp.aacrjournals.org/content/25/7/1018.abstract

Why is this paper important?

This is my favourite article of the year because it focuses on adherence to the guidelines for both diet and physical activity in prevention.  Many articles focus on telling us more what the guidelines should be than tell us – as this article did- that adhering to the guidelines at a ‘high’ level versus a ‘low level’ ‘….was consistently and significantly associated with decreases of 10% to 61% in overall cancer incidence and mortality.’

The guidelines they are referring to are to:

  • achieve and maintain a healthy weight throughout life,
  • adopt a physically active lifestyle;
  • consume a healthy diet with an emphasis on plant-based foods,
  • limit alcohol consumption.

The guidelines come from the American Cancer Society.  The systematic review that was conducted in this article used studies that had created a scoring system for adherence, typically giving 2 points if each of the 4 elements in the guideline had been met and 0 points if an element had not at all been met. Thus adherence could range from 0 to 8 points and high adherence was seen as achieving 7 or 8 points while low adherence was 0 or 2 points.

Main take home message

By following the guidelines there is evidence that your risk of cancer reduces by at least 10% and up to 60%. That is a powerful soundbite.


We’ll be sharing Papers of the Year throughout December – keep an eye out on our Twitter feed for more updates. Each of the papers will be available here as they are posted.