The conference included presentations from some of the most prominent speakers in the field, enabling transdisciplinary discussion across clinical, epidemiological and mechanistic specialities. Thescientific sessions examined the links between obesity, physical activity and cancer incidence/survival, highlighting important biomarkers and early life events in relation to cancer risk, and exploring the molecular events and cellular mechanisms that underlie these processes.
Introduction and context
Obesity, physical activity and cancer risk
Obesity, physical activity and cancer survivors
Policy issues arising from the conference discussions
Future research directions: key themes
In April 2013, the International Association for the Study of Obesity (IASO) and World Cancer Research Fund International held a conference on obesity, physical activity and cancer to bring together researchers from different disciplines in the context of the links between energy balance, obesity and physical activity, and the incidence and progression of cancer.
The key objectives were to:
The ambition was to explore the associations between these factors, and the processes that underpin them, from the cellular to the whole body level, with the aspiration of developing a truly transdisciplinary approach to future work in this area.
Historically, epidemiologists, clinicians and basic scientists have not often developed joint work programmes where each is integrally informed by the other. Only by integrating knowledge from all three areas will we be able to truly understand the complex processes operating in cancer and how these manifest in different experimental settings. This conference laid the foundation for future work to help make this aspiration a concrete reality.
Finally, the conference put the biological discussions into context by exploring what policy environment would be conducive to achieving population level change to reduce obesity and increase physical activity.
Translation into practice
Overall the conference proved successful and effective, with participants excited at the prospect of their research activities being integrally informed by the activities of others from different disciplines.
There was consensus to work together to build the infrastructure to support these transdisciplinary research activities in this area and we will consider how best to progress this.
Further details about the conference are available from the WCRF International or IASO websites
"[The Conference was] a stepping stone for more transdisciplinary work in mechanistic and epidemiological research"
Concluding remark from the scientific committee (reflecting delegates comments)
Professor Tim Byers
Center for Public Health Practice, Colorado School of Public Health
Cancer Prevention and Control, University of Colorado Cancer Center, USA
Professor Stephen D. Hursting
Department of Nutritional Sciences, The University of Texas at Austin and Department of Molecular Carcinogenesis, the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, USA
Dr Anne McTiernan
Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, USA
Professor Tai Hing Lam
School of Public Health, Department of Community Medicine University of Hong Kong, China
Dr Michelle Harvie
Nightingale and Genesis Prevention Centre, Wythenshawe Hospital, Manchester, United Kingdom
Dr Kathleen Y. Wolin
Stritch School of Medicine, Loyola University Chicago, USA
Dr Ulf Ekelund
Department of Sport Medicine, Norwegian School of Sport Sciences, Oslo, Norway and MRC Epidemiology Unit, Cambridge, UK
Professor Cornelia Ulrich
National Center for Tumor Diseases (NCT) Heidelberg, Germany
Professor Henry J. Thompson
Cancer Prevention Laboratory, Colorado State University, USA
Professor Catherine Muller-Staumont
Institute of Pharmacology and Structural Biology/University of Toulouse, Toulouse, France
Professor Martin Wiseman
World Cancer Research Fund International, United Kingdom
Dr Sarah Lewis
School of Social and Community Medicine, University of Bristol, United Kingdom
Dr Andrew G Renehan
Institute of Cancer Sciences, University of Manchester, United Kingdom
Dr Jenifer Fenton
Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition, Michigan State University, USA
Professor Rudolf Kaaks
Deutsches Krebsforschungszentrum (DKFZ), Division of Cancer Epidemiology, Heidelberg, Germany
Professor Cheryl L. Rock
Department of Family and Preventive Medicine, School of Medicine, University of California, USA
Professor Margot Cleary
Hormel Institute, University of Minnesota, Austin, USA
Professor Alan Jackson
Institute of Human Nutrition, University of Southampton and Director, NIHR Southampton Biomedical Research Centre for Nutrition, Southampton University Hospitals NHS Trust, United Kingdom
Dr Susan Ozanne
Institute of Metabolic Science (IMS), University of Cambridge Metabolic Research Laboratories, United Kingdom
Dr Karen A Lillycrop
Institute of Developmental Sciences, University of Southampton, United Kingdom
Dr João Breda
Physical Activity and Obesity, Noncommunicable Diseases and Health Promotion Division, WHO Regional Office for Europe, Denmark