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The Cancer Project Update

Cancer and Nutrition Symposium Breaks New Ground

With eight groundbreaking presentations, two gourmet vegetarian meals, and continuing education credits, The Cancer Project’s 2008 Cancer and Nutrition Symposium kept more than 300 attendees captivated to the very end.

Speakers at the Cancer Project SymposiumRowan Chlebowski, M.D., Ph.D., of the Women’s Intervention Nutrition Study, showed how a low-fat diet significantly increased survival in women diagnosed with breast cancer. John Pierce, Ph.D., who led the Women’s Healthy Eating and Living Study, reported that a combination of increased exercise and a diet rich in fruits and vegetables can improve breast cancer survival. However, his research also showed that simply increasing vegetables and fruits without other diet and lifestyle changes is not likely to have survival benefits, except in women with elevated estrogen levels.

Ruth Marlin, M.D., working with Dean Ornish, M.D., showed that a low-fat vegan diet helps men diagnosed with prostate cancer. Their research also showed that a vegan diet not only has the power to affect cancer biomarkers like prostate-specific antigen levels, but also alters the expression of genes that relate to disease progression. The research team compared ribonucleic acid (RNA) from prostate biopsies taken before the lifestyle intervention to RNA from the same patient three months later and found that more than 500 genes were affected. Notably, genes that have been shown to play critical roles in tumor promotion had turned off.

After lunch, Mark Messina, Ph.D., discussed research findings showing that soy products appear to reduce breast cancer risk, provided they are consumed early in life.

Alison Duncan, Ph.D., M.Sc., spoke on soy and prostate cancer, providing an overview of the latest prostate cancer and soy studies, including her own research on the subject.

The day concluded with a panel discussion about translating nutrition recommendations to public policy. Cancer Project president Neal Barnard, M.D., called for taking diet-related cancers as seriously as tobacco-related cancers. While tobacco sales, use, and advertising are restricted, the same is not true of the processed meats linked to colorectal cancer. Dr. Barnard proposed that meats be viewed similarly to tobacco.

Stephen L. Joseph, Esq., compared his successful anti-trans-fat campaign to a proposed ban on processed meats in America. He said that it is important not to underestimate the aggressiveness of industries selling unhealthful foods.

Rob Barron, from the office of Sen. Tom Harkin, commented on the process and potential obstacles to implementing Dr. Barnard’s recommendations.

If you missed the event, you can find more information at

Food for Life Cooking Instructors Assemble for Educational Summit

The Cancer Project’s nutrition and cooking instructors came from across the country to participate in a two-day Instructor Summit that began with the 2008 Cancer and Nutrition Symposium and ended with a full day of professional-development workshops focusing on marketing, media training, presentation skills, brainstorming sessions, and nutrition education. Instructors also provided video testimonials about how becoming a part of The Cancer Project program has deeply affected their lives.

For more information on becoming a Food for Life nutrition and cooking instructor, visit or e-mail



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