Adherence to the WCRF/AICR 2018 recommendations for cancer prevention and risk of cancer: prospective cohort studies of men and women

Br J Cancer. 2020 May;122(10):1562-1570. doi: 10.1038/s41416-020-0806-x. Epub 2020 Mar 25.


Background: In 2018, the World Cancer Research Fund/American Institute for Cancer Research (WCRF/AICR) issued revised recommendations for cancer prevention. We examined the relation between adherence to these recommendations and risk of total cancer in two population-based Swedish prospective cohorts (29,451 men and 25,349 women).

Methods: Standardized-WCRF/AICR 2018 and simplified-WCRF/AICR 2018 adherence scores were constructed based on the WCRF/AICR recommendations for body weight, physical activity, diet, alcohol consumption and dietary supplement use. Data were collected using a self-administered questionnaire.

Results: During the 15.4 years of follow-up, 12,693 incident cancers were ascertained. The multivariable HR between extreme categories of the Standardized-WCRF/AICR 2018 score (4.1-7 vs. 0-2) was 0.88 (95% CI = 0.82-0.95) and for the Simplified score (5-8 vs. 0-2) was 0.85 (95% CI = 0.80-0.90); each 1-score increment in recommendation adherence was associated with 3% (95% CI = 1-5%) and 4% (95% CI = 2-5%) decreased risk, respectively. Based on the Simplified scoring, most participants (>90%) did not meet WCRF/AICR 2018 recommendations regarding consumption of plant foods, limited consumption of red/processed meat and 'fast food'/processed food, and <50% of participants met the weight and physical activity recommendations.

Conclusions: Adherence to the 2018WCRF/AICR recommendations substantially reduced the risk of total cancer. Given that many people do not meet the recommendations, there is a great potential for cancer prevention.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Alcohol Drinking / adverse effects
  • Alcohol Drinking / epidemiology*
  • Body Weight / physiology*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Diet / methods
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Life Style
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Neoplasms / pathology
  • Neoplasms / prevention & control*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires