We asked SCPN friends and advisors to tell us about a report/paper/findings/work on cancer screening and prevention that has been published this year and has made them stop and think. The works span a wide range of areas from very detailed scientific investigation, reviews of physical activities, and blogs of model work. We find them a complete inspiration. When only 3% of the NCRI research budget is spent on prevention and virtually nil on implementation research; these papers provide a window on some of the very good reasons why cancer screening and prevention should be a leading part of cancer control research.


Nanette Mutrie is Chair of Physical Activity for Health at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, and she directs the Physical Activity for Health Research Centre there. She is also a visiting Professor at the University of Ulster and at MRC Social and Public Health Sciences Unit at the University of Glasgow. Nanette is a Chartered Psychologist with the British Psychological Society and has extensive experience of conducting interventions aimed at increasing physical activity. She is also an Honorary Fellow of BASES and of HEPA Europe.

Nanette’s nominated paper of the year is: Rezende, LFMD., Sá, THD., Markozannes, G., et al. (2017) ‘Physical activity and cancer: an umbrella review of the literature including 22 major anatomical sites and 770 000 cancer cases’ British Journal of Sports Medicine, 0: 1–9.

Nanette chose this paper because…

“This article appeals to me because of the word umbrella in the title. This is a step beyond the very helpful systematic review process in which literature from a focussed topic is systematically searched, assessed for quality and conclusions drawn about what we know of that specific topic. The umbrella review systematically searches for systematic reviews [not primary studies] on a more general topic, quality is assessed and conclusions provide a state of the art overview of the general area.  The general topic of this umbrella review is the role of physical activity in the prevention of any cancer.

This umbrella review covered 19 single reviews involving 22 cancer sites and 541 original studies. The umbrella reviewers conducted meta-analyses of the data from included systematic reviews and judged the evidence as strong, highly suggestive [of a real effect], suggestive or weak by a combination of statistical significance and the number of cases involved in the analysis. Strong and highly suggestive categories provide confidence that there is a real protective effect from physical activity and other categories suggest there maybe weaknesses in the data or bias in the studies.

After analyses the umbrella reviewers concluded that physical activity was associated with lower risk of seven cancer sites (colon, breast, endometrial, lung, oesophageal, pancreas and meningioma) but only colon (a protective association with recreational physical activity) and breast cancer (a protective association with overall physical activity) were supported by strong evidence and highly suggestive evidence, respectively.

So that is the take home message – from the largest review to date we can be confident that regular physical activity will have protective effects on both colon cancer and breast cancer. Over time, with better evidence, other cancers may also be shown to have reduced risk from physical activity – but not yet.”

Read the paper here:  https://thescpn.org/2jvoXEb

If you experience any difficulties accessing the paper, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us at scpn@cancerpreventionscotland.org.uk