Innovative tool to review research on cancer mechanisms

WCRF funded a project that developed a tool to help better assess the large amount of research on the mechanistic studies that link lifestyle factors to cancer.

As part of the work of the CUP, we have identified a number of lifestyle factors as being risk factors of cancer. However, the CUP Panel spotted a gap in the mechanistic evidence to support those causal relationships between nutrition, physical activity and cancer.

Recognising the importance of mechanistic evidence to strengthen the epidemiological evidence, we commissioned research to develop a new methodology.

This methodology would systematically review the vast number of mechanistic studies that underpin the associations between diet, nutrition and physical activity, and cancer.

The aim was to ensure that the methodology to review mechanistic research was as robust as the protocols used to carry out the systematic literature reviews of the epidemiological studies analysed for our CUP.

Dr Sarah Lewis and Professor Richard Martin at the University of Bristol, developed a new framework for assessing mechanistic studies, including an automated mechanisms discovery search tool known as Text Mining for Mechanism Prioritisation (TeMMPo).

Dr Giota MitrouThis exciting new methodology has the potential to become the mainstream approach to review mechanistic studies. It also offers a platform to inform the direction of future research in the area of diet, nutrition, physical activity and cancer.

Dr Giota Mitrou, Director of Research Funding and Science External Relations