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World Cancer Research Fund International (WCRF International)

Working with leading research scientists, policy makers and health professionals, World Cancer Research Fund International (WCRF International) is committed to making cancer prevention a reality.

WCRF International is the not-for-profit umbrella association that leads and unifies our WCRF global network of cancer charities dedicated to funding research and education programmes into the link between food, nutrition, physical activity, weight maintenance and cancer risk. The national charities are based in the US, UK, Netherlands, and Hong Kong.

WCRF International was created to maximise the potential of each national member, and by building a network of cancer charities, strengthen the global cancer prevention message. With the belief that greater impact can be achieved when allied organisations work together, WCRF International operates to ensure that each of its charities is in a stronger position than if it were operating in isolation.

Our global network activities

Our history

Our published Expert Reports

Present and future science and research plans

WCRF International supports World Cancer Day

Our global network activities

The WCRF global network is dedicated to preventing cancer by:

  • Funding scientists around the world to carry out scientific research that improves our understanding about how diet, physical activity and weight management affect cancer risk.

  • Interpreting the accumulated scientific literature in the field by producing scientific reports and health promotion materials for a wide variety of audiences.

  • Funding education programmes that help people to reduce their risk of developing cancer. By giving people science-based information, we give them the chance to make their own informed lifestyle choices.

Conventional wisdom once said that this devastating disease ‘just happened’ to people, that it was a question of bad luck or down to a person's genes. Today, we know that many cases of cancer can be prevented. Scientists estimate that by eating healthily, being physically active and maintaining a healthy weight we can prevent about a third of the most common cancers. By making these positive diet and lifestyle choices, together with not smoking, we can substantially reduce our cancer risk. This means that WCRF’s cancer prevention work can save lives.

The WCRF global network has raised millions of pounds for cancer prevention research and education programmes. Together, we have funded almost £86 million of cutting-edge research projects around the world that have helped to further our understanding that cancer is a largely a preventable disease. The WCRF global network members also provide wide reaching nationally-based education programmes for health professionals, children and the general public.

Read a message from Marilyn Gentry, President of the WCRF global network.

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Our history

Since it was created in 1982, the WCRF global network has been a pioneer in research and education on the link between food, nutrition, physical activity and the prevention of cancer. We were the first cancer charity to focus on these links and our work has continued to concentrate specifically on funding research in this field and on formulating reliable and scientifically proven recommendations that are translated into simple, clear messages for health professionals, individuals and governments.

Thanks to the innovative science funded in the field of diet and cancer and the discoveries made to date, the WCRF global network can confidently raise awareness of the fact that about a third of the most common cancers can be prevented by following our clear Recommendations for Cancer Prevention.

The WCRF global network has become world-renowned for its work in funding pioneering scientific research, for communicating cancer prevention messages millions of people worldwide and for gathering and interpreting scientific data on the on the links between, diet, physical activity, weight maintenance and cancer risk.

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Our published Expert Reports

In 1997, we published our first landmark Expert Report, ‘Food, Nutrition and the Prevention of Cancer: a Global Perspective’ (WCRF/AICR, 1997), on how cancer risk is affected by the choices we make each day. This Report confirmed beyond doubt that our lifestyle choices have a big impact on cancer risk and was a catalyst for change that inspired further scientific research in this field.

Over the next few years, more and more research was carried out on the link between lifestyle choices and cancer risk. By 2002, it was clear that there was so much new evidence that a new Report was needed, so the WCRF global network set ourselves the challenge of producing a Second Expert Report. WCRF International instigated and co-ordinated the six-year process of compiling the scientific data to publish ‘Food, Nutrition, Physical Activity, and the Prevention of Cancer: a global perspective’ (WCRF/AICR, 2007) was launched in November 2007.

Our Second Expert Report is the most comprehensive book ever published on the links between food, nutrition, physical activity and cancer prevention and is based on the in-depth analysis of over 7,000 scientific studies published on cancer prevention over the last 50 years. A panel of 21 world-renowned scientists reviewed the research evidence and drew conclusions that led to our current Recommendations for Cancer Prevention.

In addition to our two Expert Reports, in February 2009, the WCRF global network published ‘Policy and Action for Cancer Prevention’ (WCRF/AICR, 2009), a companion publication to the Second Expert Report that addresses why people practice particular eating and physical activity habits over a lifetime. This Policy Report provides advice and guidance for key groups, such as governments and workplaces, on what can be done to influence and change the lifestyle choices that people make, as they relate to their risk of cancer.

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Present and future science and research plans

From its beginnings in the early 1980s the WCRF global network has pioneered research and education on food, nutrition, physical activity and the prevention of cancer. We have an ongoing commitment to funding and developing the most reliable evidence-based research recommendations and their translation into messages that form the basis for action by health professionals, communities, families and individuals.

Following the launch of the WCRF global network’s Second Expert Report, we have been collating the findings from all new cancer prevention studies carried out throughout the world. Using the same rigorous methodology of our Second Expert Report, our Continuous Update Project analyses the findings of new cancer prevention research that has been published since our book was produced. Future results of this pioneering research project will be used to ensure that our Recommendations for Cancer Prevention remain based on the most up-to-date evidence available.

We have a long-term commitment to our Continuous Update Project. Work on the Continuous Update Project began in 2007. By 2015 the results of diet and lifestyle-related cancer prevention studies that have been published since the launch of our Second Expert Report will be added to the database. After 2015 it will be relatively easy to keep it updated with the addition of new scientific data. Our CUP Expert Panel judges the updated evidence and new updates to the cancer sections of the Second Expert Report will be published over the coming years.

In addition to the Continous Update Project, WCRF International and the WCRF global network have a comprehensive science and research programme that includes our Research Grant Programme, a Fellowship Programme and a Training Academy.

WCRF International’s website also houses a comprehensive range of worldwide cancer statistics from sources such as the Office of National Statistics (ONS) and the World Health Organization (WHO).

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World Cancer Research Fund - Cancer prevention and cancer research