New awareness campaign launches with IJC editorial

WCRF’s UK charity aims to highlight evidence for cancer prevention.

18 March 2021

Cancer Prevention Awareness Week launches in the UK on Saturday with an editorial in the International Journal of Cancer. The week-long campaign, led by the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) network’s UK charity, aims to increase awareness of the risk factors for cancer, which – a new YouGov poll shows – has fallen after a year of headlines dominated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Individuals will be encouraged to sign a Prevention Pledge to demonstrate their commitment to following our Cancer Prevention Recommendations, and sign up to an eight-week behaviour change plan, called Activ8.

WCRF will also reveal new epidemiological research by Prof Ed Giovannucci of Harvard University that highlights how two common forms of cancer, colorectal and breast, are more preventable than previous research studies have shown.

A hard message to hear

In the editorial, Nigel Shattock, WCRF’s UK Director of Communications & Engagement, writes:

“Looking back at how much attitudes and understanding around diet, nutrition and health have changed since the charity’s formation, it is easy to see how much WCRF has influenced the scientific debate. This particularly applies where increased awareness of cancer and obesity is concerned. However, achieving wider understanding and acceptance by the general public of all ten of our Recommendations (including around reduced consumption of red and processed meat, or eating more grains, vegetables, fruit and beans) has been a much more difficult task.

“This is mainly because the messages are not easy to hear – ie, what you eat, how much you weigh or how much you move will potentially increase or decrease your risk of cancer. Governments, the media and people also naturally focus more on the issues and fears around cancer diagnosis and survival, and the ongoing search for a cure. Nevertheless, WCRF’s research shows that while 1 in 2 people will be diagnosed with cancer during their lifetime, 40% of all those cases could be prevented. This is equivalent to 147,000 people every year in the UK alone who develop a preventable cancer.”

> Read the editorial