Cancer Research UK has launched a £6 million initiative to support cutting-edge research into lifestyle and behavioural changes that can prevent cancer. It is estimated that more than four in 10 cancer cases could be prevented by lifestyle changes, such as not smoking, keeping a healthy body weight, cutting back on alcohol, eating a healthy diet, keeping active and staying safe in the sun. Cancer Research UK has matched a £3 million donation received from the Bupa Foundation in 2013 to provide a £6 million cash injection that will fund the initiative for the next five years.
This includes two new funding streams:
- A three-year Fellowship Award to fund outstanding postdoctoral scientists and health care professionals to research behavioural changes that can prevent people getting cancer.
- A 12-month Innovation Award drawing on expertise from a diverse range of experts, from health professionals to community groups, to develop pioneering new ways of researching cancer prevention.
A new Policy Research Centre within Cancer Research UK, set up as part of the initiative, will help set the research agenda for the new funding streams. This will provide an in-house research facility capable of filling in any gaps in evidence needed to drive through policy changes aimed at preventing cancer.
Professor Linda Bauld, based at Stirling University, is leading the new initiative with support from an International Advisory Board including world-leading scientists. She said: “With health services already overstretched and people living longer, prevention is going to be vital to address the problem of cancer, alongside other diseases with lifestyle risk factors such as heart disease and diabetes. We know cutting UK smoking rates by just one per cent could save 3,000 lives a year, and it’s by far the biggest preventable cause of cancer. But other factors such as obesity and alcohol are also very important, and until now there’s been very little research into how we can help people strike the right balance in those areas.
“We’ve now seen real reductions in smoking rates, but that is only thanks to fierce advocacy backed by strong research evidence that has informed policy and influenced people’s decisions about their own health. This initiative will build on that success by uniting scientists and policymakers with the expertise to tackle other important lifestyle factors linked to cancer.”
A series of three-day innovation workshops began last week to kick off the new initiative, during which scientists, health professionals, policy makers and community groups met to discuss how to tackle cancer prevention among people who are hard to reach. As a result eight new pilot projects have been awarded grants to carry out pioneering work in this area.
Fiona Reddington, Cancer Research UK’s head of clinical and population research, said: “We’re delighted to be funding this ground-breaking new initiative. While more than 40 per cent of cancers could be prevented by people living more healthily, changing everyday habits isn’t always as easy as it seems due to people’s individual circumstances and beliefs. We want to see people living longer healthier lives, so now is the time for research to unlock how to best help people stack the odds in their favour to minimise their cancer risk.”
Full press release on www.cancerresearchuk.org