New Chair Chosen for International Panel of Experts

American Institute for Cancer Research
Thursday, 20 November 2003

Marmot to Head Scientific Panel Conducting Landmark Investigation of the Nutrition-Cancer Link

The American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) announced today that Dr. Michael Marmot, Professor of Epidemiology and Public Health at the Royal Free and University College Medical School, London and Director of the International Centre for Health and Society at University College London, has been appointed to chair a panel of the world's leading cancer and nutrition experts. The panel has recently begun a comprehensive investigation into the role of diet and physical activity in cancer risk. This process will conclude in 2006, with the publication of a report summarizing the mass of scientific evidence about the roles of food, nutrition and physical activity in the causation and prevention of cancer.

Marmot's appointment was welcomed by AICR and its national affiliates within the WCRF International global network. "Dr. Marmot is a skilled investigator of the link between nutrition and disease risk, and brings years of experience coordinating national and international research efforts," said Marilyn Gentry, President of WCRF International.

Dr. Marmot is the principal investigator of the internationally renowned Whitehall studies of British civil servants, and co-principal investigator of the Health Surveys for England and Scotland. He has published widely on various aspects of public health, including disparities in health related to nationality, age, economic status, nutritional status and cultural differences.

He earned a degree in medicine with honors from the University of Sydney, Australia, a Masters in Public Health and a Doctorate in Epidemiology from the University of California, Berkeley. He is a Foreign Associate Member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies. He is a Member of the Faculty of Community Medicine, a Fellow of the Faculty of Public Health Medicine, and a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians. In 2000, he received a knighthood for services to epidemiology and health inequalities.

In taking over the chairmanship of the panel, Dr. Marmot replaces past chair Robert Beaglehole, Professor of Community Health at the University of Auckland, New Zealand. Dr. Beaglehole has accepted a Director position at the World Health Organization in Geneva, a position that prevents him from continuing as WCRF International's panel chair.

The WCRF International panel comprises 21 internationally renowned scientists representing 12 different countries and includes 6 members from the US: Tim Byers, University of Colorado Health Sciences Centre; Laurence Kolonel, University of Hawaii; Shiriki Kumanyika, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine; Arthur Schatzkin, National Cancer Institute; Walter Willett, Harvard School of Public Health; Steven Zeisel, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

The panel also features observers from the World Health Organization (WHO), the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), the International Union Against Cancer (UICC), the International Union of Nutritional Sciences (IUNS) and the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).

The panel is charged with producing a second report to replace the 1997 report, published by WCRF and its U.S. affiliate the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR), entitled Food, Nutrition and the Prevention of Cancer: a global perspective. That report is widely regarded as the most comprehensive and authoritative examination of the link between diet, lifestyle and cancer risk ever undertaken.

Chief among the conclusions of the 1997 report is that simple, everyday choices - the adoption of diets rich in vegetables, fruits and other plant foods, regular physical activity and maintenance of a healthy weight - could prevent between 30 and 40 per cent of cancer cases worldwide, similar to the effect from stopping smoking.

The second expert report will rank the accumulated evidence for links between food intake, nutrition status, physical activity levels and the risk of specific cancers. It will also include a series of recommendations geared not only to individuals but also to governments, industry and entire communities. Unlike the first WCRF/AICR Expert Report, the new report will also address the evidence for any impact of food and nutrition on the progress of cancers once diagnosed.

For more information, or to contact American Institute for Cancer Research, see their website at: www.aicr.org

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