Scientists, physicians discuss latest discoveries for stopping cancer before it starts

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American Association for Cancer Research convenes Second Annual International Conference on Frontiers in Cancer Prevention Research

A low-carbohydrate diet, rather than a low-fat diet, may halt the progression of prostate cancer. Conversely, vitamin A and related compounds present in dairy products, beef fat and fish oil, slow the growth of prostate tumors.

Eating fruits and vegetables reduces breast cancer risk but may not impede colorectal cancer; while ginger potentially can.
Drinking green tea helps keep the body from excreting an enzyme that inhibits the formation of certain lesions and tumors.

The antioxidants in grapes and wine decrease the odds of developing skin cancer from exposure to ultraviolet light; so do some non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.

Changes in the nucleus of some cells can serve as predictors of cancer susceptibility.

More than 650 scientists and clinicians from around the world will gather in Phoenix next week to share these and many other novel findings at the second annual American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) International Conference on Frontiers in Cancer Prevention Research.

"Over the past five years there have been significant advances in our understanding of the signaling pathways responsible for the development of both pre-invasive and invasive cancers," said Raymond N. DuBois, Ph.D., M.D., meeting chairperson and Professor of Medicine and Cell Biology and Director, Division of Gastroenterology, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville, Tenn.

"This meeting will provide a venue for discussion of our current strategies for cancer prevention and for a critical evaluation of exciting new opportunities to reduce the high burden of cancer on our society by using better diagnostics, predictive markers and personalized medicine," he added.

A sea change in the war on cancer is quietly under way in the laboratories of medical centers, research hospitals, universities, government health agencies and pharmaceutical companies globally. The burgeoning field of cancer prevention research – the quest to identify drugs and other substances that will ward off the onset of cancer, hinder its progress, reverse its course or diminish the chances of its recurrence – is augmenting the search for a cure.

"AACR launched the annual cancer prevention meetings last year, to facilitate the exchange of research results from laboratories and clinical trials, foster translational research, and strengthen the vitally important partnership among basic scientists, clinical oncologists, physician-scientists, behavioral scientists, and epidemiologists from academia, government, and industry, as well as cancer survivor groups," said Karen S. H. Antman, M.D., AACR president and Wu Professor of Medicine and Professor of Pharmacology, Division of Oncology, Department of Medicine, Columbia University, New York.

"This second annual, multidisciplinary conference will link the biology of the cancer process with its clinical prevention and reversal in pre-invasive stages," she added.

In addition to dozens of symposia and poster sessions, the conference will include a lecture by Waun Ki Hong, M.D., of The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center. Dr. Hong will receive the second annual AACR-Cancer Research and Prevention Foundation (CRPF) Award for Excellence in Cancer Prevention Research at the meeting, and speak to the participants on the subject of cancer chemoprevention at the molecular level.

The conference will open with a keynote address by Robert A. Weinberg, Ph.D.

Dr. Weinberg is Professor of Biology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Daniel K. Ludwig and American Cancer Society Professor for Cancer Research at MIT's Whitehead Institute, both in Cambridge, Mass. Hamilton Jordan, former White House Chief of Staff, cancer survivor, patient advocate and author will give a special presentation during the opening session as well.

Dr. Weinberg's remarks will examine another aspect of cancer prevention: the defects in human cancer cells and the synchronized confluence of other cellular events that must take place before tumors form.

"As we learn more about the various types of human cancer," Dr. Weinberg said, "we are able to extract some basic principles that unite all – or almost all – forms of human cancer."

Mr. Jordan's 2000 memoir, No Such Thing as a Bad Day, is a poignant, personal and inspirational account of his battles against non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, as well as prostate and skin cancers – all developed before the age of fifty. He writes: " … Cancer is a strange blessing that casts our life and purpose in sharp relief. Many [cancer patients] use their illness to find new meaning in their lives." The conference program includes early detection, with sessions dealing with genetics and new technologies capable of examining the nucleus of cells for changes that may presage cancer.

Areas of concern raised by some of the research presentations include geographic trends in breast cancer mortality rates showing an increasing incidence recently in the South, and Nurses' Health Study results showing a possible link between extended periods of regular aspirin use and a significantly increased risk of pancreatic cancer among women.

Founded in 1907, the American Association for Cancer Research is a professional society of more than 21,000 laboratory, translational, and clinical scientists engaged in cancer research in the United States and in more than 60 other countries. AACR's mission is to accelerate the prevention and cure of cancer through research, education, communication, and advocacy. Its principal activities include the publication of five major peer-reviewed scientific journals: Cancer Research; Clinical Cancer Research; Molecular Cancer Therapeutics; Molecular Cancer Research; and Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention. AACR's annual meetings – next year in Orlando, Fla., March 27-31 – attract more than 15,000 participants who share new and significant discoveries in the cancer field. Specialty meetings like this one, held throughout the year, focus on the latest developments in all areas of cancer research.

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