A systematic review and meta-analysis of the 2007 WCRF/AICR score in relation to cancer-related health outcomes

Ann Oncol. 2020 Mar;31(3):352-368. doi: 10.1016/j.annonc.2020.01.001. Epub 2020 Jan 8.


Background: We conducted a systematic literature review and meta-analysis of observational studies investigating adherence to the 2007 World Cancer Research Fund/American Institute for Cancer Research (WCRF/AICR) lifestyle recommendations for cancer prevention and health outcomes.

Patients and methods: We searched PubMed and the in-house database of the WCRF Continuous Update Project for publications up to June 2019. Cross-sectional studies were only narratively reviewed given their heterogeneity while findings of cohort/case-control studies were synthesized in umbrella reviews and meta-analyses. Summary relative risks (RRs) and 95% confidence intervals (CI) were estimated using a random-effects model when at least two studies reported results on a specific outcome.

Results: Thirty-eight articles (17 prospective, 8 case-control, and 13 cross-sectional studies) were included. The summary RR per each point increment in the 2007 WCRF/AICR score was 0.90 (95% CI: 0.87-0.93, n = 11) for breast cancer, regardless of hormone receptor and menopausal status, 0.86 (95% CI: 0.82-0.89, n = 10) for colorectal cancer, and 0.93 (95% CI: 0.89-0.96, n = 2) for lung cancer risk. No statistically significant associations were reported for prostate (n = 6) and pancreatic cancers (n = 2). Adherence to the recommendations was associated with lower overall mortality (RR = 0.90, 95% CI 0.84-0.96, n = 3) and cancer-specific mortality (RR = 0.91, 95% CI 0.89-0.92; n = 3) in healthy populations, as well as with higher survival in cancer patients (n = 2). In cross-sectional studies, a healthier plasma marker profile and lower cancer risk factors in the general population and a better health status and quality of life in cancer patients/survivors were reported.

Conclusions: Adhering to the 2007 WCRF/AICR recommendations is associated with lower risks of cancer incidence, namely breast and colorectal cancers, and mortality. Primary prevention of cancer should emphasize modification of multiple lifestyle factors. Upcoming studies examining the recently updated 2018 guidelines will further clarify such associations.

Keywords: 2007 WCRF/AICR recommendations; cancer; diet; meta-analysis; mortality; physical activity.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Financial Management*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Neoplasms* / epidemiology
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Quality of Life
  • Risk Factors
  • United States