Adherence to 2018 WCRF/AICR Cancer Prevention Recommendations and Risk of Cancer: The Melbourne Collaborative Cohort Study

Yang Peng, Julie K. Bassett, Allison M. Hodge, Yohannes Adama Melaku, Nina Afshar, John L. Hopper, Robert J. MacInnis, Brigid M. Lynch, Stephanie A. Smith-Warner, Graham G. Giles, Roger L. Milne, Harindra Jayasekara

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: We examined associations between adherence to adaptations of the 2018World Cancer Research Fund/American Institute for Cancer Research (WCRF/AICR) cancer prevention recommendations and total, exposure-related and site-specific cancer risk. 

Methods: A total of 20,001 participants ages 40 to 69 years at enrollment into the Melbourne Collaborative Cohort Study in 1990 to 1994, who had diet, body size, and lifestyle reassessed in 2003 to 2007 ("baseline"), were followed-up through June 2021. We constructed diet and standardized lifestyle scores based on core WCRF/AICR recommendations on diet, alcohol intake, body size and physical activity, and additional scores incorporating weight change, sedentary behavior, and smoking.Associations with cancer risk were estimated using Cox regression, adjusting for confounders. 

Results: During follow-up (mean = 16 years), 4,710 incident cancers were diagnosed. For highest quintile ("most adherent") of the standardized lifestyle score, compared with lowest ("least adherent"), a HR of 0.82 [95% confidence interval (CI): 0.74- 0.92] was observed for total cancer. This association was stronger with smoking included in the score (HR = 0.74; 95% CI: 0.67- 0.81). A higher score was associated with lower breast and prostate cancer risk for the standardized score, and with lung, stomach, rectal, and pancreatic cancer risk when the score included smoking. Our analyses identified alcohol use, waist circumference and smoking as key drivers of associations with total cancer risk. 

Conclusions: Adherence to WCRF/AICR cancer prevention recommendations is associated with lower cancer risk. 

Impact: With <0.2% of our sample fully adherent to the recommendations, the study emphasizes the vast potential for preventing cancer through modulation of lifestyle habits.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)43–54
Number of pages12
JournalCancer Epidemiology Biomarkers & Prevention
Issue number1
Early online date9 Nov 2023
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2024


  • Cancer
  • Cancer risk
  • Lifestyle
  • Cohort studies


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