Cancer Prevention

The overall research goals of the Cancer Prevention program focuses on improving the current knowledge base for promoting overall reductions in cancer incidence, mortality and morbidity as outlined in the 2010 Health Goals for the nation. Research studies are focused on the following four thematic goals:

  • To inform the design and evaluation of interventions aimed at promoting the decline in tobacco consumption in the United States.

    Tobacco usage is well documented as the most important single cause of cancer in the United States and, while significant gains have been achieved, the smoking epidemic is a long way from over. Program members have focused on the behavioral epidemiology of smoking and in developing the science base for public health interventions to reduce smoking behavior. This has included research to identify mutable factors associated with smoking initiation and successful cessation. This topic area has been evaluated as one of the strengths of the program for the past decade.
  • To further identify the role of nutrition, physical activity, obesity as well as hormones as causes for cancer.

    There is considerable evidence that dietary patterns, physical activity and weight control can protect against cancer. There is also considerable evidence that current trends in dietary intake, physical activity and obesity are far from optimal and may increase the probability of cancer morbidity and mortality. Program members are actively engaged in research to improve measurement of these behaviors, understand the factors that affect the behaviors, and evaluate innovative interventions to improve the behaviors and decrease cancer risk.
  • To study the efficacy of cancer prevention efforts and to conduct efficacy studies of interventions to reduce cancer risk from lifestyle factors or chemoprevention.

    Previous research has identified a number of potentially effective interventions to prevent cancer or its progression. Program members are involved in the testing of the efficacy of these interventions.
  • To improve exposure measures used in cancer prevention and control studies

    Measurement error is a major concern that can confound the results of many studies in the area of cancer prevention and control. Problems have been identified in self-reported measures of exposure to secondhand tobacco smoke, and self-reported measures of dietary intake and physical activity. While there is considerable developmental work being undertaken on new measures of these variables, detailed research is also needed to quantify the type and extent of error in current instruments.
Cancer Cell

Jacqueline Kerr PhD

Associate Professor
Dept. of Family Medicine and Public Health