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Vidyya, from the Sanskrit "vaidya," a practitioner who has come to understand the science of life.

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Back To Vidyya Cancer Is Primarily Environmental

Results Of A Landmark Study Of Twins

In light of an important study appearing in the July 13 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM), researchers associated with the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) reminded the public that cancer is a disease that is largely preventable through changes to the diet, maintenance of a healthy weight, regular exercise, and avoidance of tobacco. The Institute is offering a free brochure to the public with practical, everyday guidelines that can dramatically lower cancer risk.

The NEJM study combined data on over 44,788 pairs of twins in Finland, Sweden and Denmark, where government twin registries make it easier for scientists to research twins. The study set out to assess the relative importance of genetic (i.e., inherited) and environmental (i.e., associated with diet, lifestyle and other factors). The researchers concluded that an individual's environment makes a much larger contribution to his or her cancer risk than do inherited genetic factors.

"This study confirms something AICR has been saying for two decades," said Ritva Butrum, Ph.D., AICR Vice President for Research. (Dr. Butrum happens herself to be an identical twin of Finnish birth. She did not, however, participate in the study.)

"This study adds to the consistent and convincing data telling us that cancer is a largely preventable disease. We know that simple dietary and lifestyle changes make a tremendous difference in risk. AICR estimates that 60 to 70 percent of all cancers can be avoided by making small, ongoing changes in what we eat and how we live."

The changes that make the important difference, Dr. Butrum said, include eating a diet rich in a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and beans, being physically active, maintaining a healthy weight, and avoiding tobacco.

AICR is offering a free brochure entitled "Simple Steps to Prevent Cancer" that provides these and other clear, practical guidelines for lowering risk. The brochure explains the importance of diet and lifestyle factors, and offers tips on menu planning and making time for exercise. The free brochure is available to the public by calling 1-800-843-8114, ext. 997.

The American Institute for Cancer Research is the nation's third largest cancer charity and focuses exclusively on the link between diet and cancer. The Institute provides a wide range of consumer education programs that have helped millions of Americans learn to make changes for lower cancer risk. AICR also supports innovative research in cancer prevention and treatment at universities, hospitals and research centers across the U.S. The Institute has provided over $55 million in funding for research in diet, nutrition and cancer. AICR's web address is

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Editor: Susan K. Boyer, RN
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