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5 healthy habits may help you live more than 10 years longer

New research published by the American Heart Association (AHA) suggests that adults in the U.S. who follow five healthy lifestyle habits may live more than a decade longer compared with people who follow none of the habits. These five habits are:

  • Eating a healthy diet
  • Getting regular exercise
  • Not smoking
  • Staying at a healthy weight
  • Limiting alcohol

The study authors point out that the U.S. ranks 31st in the world for life expectancy among those born in 2015, even though it’s one of the richest countries in the world, and spends more on health care per person as a percent of gross domestic product than any other country. 

According to the authors, the U.S. healthcare system focuses mainly on drug discovery and disease management, even though a greater emphasis on prevention could go a long way toward controlling the most common and most expensive diseases, including cancer and cardiovascular disease.

The researchers looked at data of 123,219 people enrolled in the Nurses’ Health Study from 1980 to 2014 and the Health Professionals Follow-up Study from 1986 to 2014. They used information on death rates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to estimate the impact of the five healthy lifestyle habits on how long people lived. Among the findings:

During a follow-up period of up to 34 years, 42,167 people in the study died. Of the reported deaths, 13,953 were due to cancer and 10,689 were due to cardiovascular disease.

In men and women who reported following all five healthy lifestyle habits, life expectancy was found to be lengthened. At age 50 years, women who adopted none of the healthy lifestyle habits had an average remaining life expectancy of another 29 years compared with 43.1 years for women who adopted all five healthy lifestyle behaviors. Men aged 50 who adopted none of the healthy lifestyle habits had an average remaining life expectancy of another 25.5 years compared with 37.6 years for men who adopted all five healthy lifestyle habits.

Those who followed all the habits were found to be 74% less likely to die during the follow-up period than those who followed none of the habits. They were 82% less likely to die from cardiovascular disease and 65% less likely to die from cancer.

Each individual healthy habit was directly linked to a reduced risk of premature death in this study, with the combination of all five habits showing the lowest risk.

How healthy is ‘healthy?’

To compare diets among the study participants, researchers created a scoring system that gave higher scores to people who reported eating more foods considered healthy and fewer foods considered unhealthy. Healthy foods included vegetables, fruits, nuts, and whole grains. Unhealthy foods included red and processed meats, sugar-sweetened beverages, trans fat, and sodium. The American Cancer Society recommends:

  • Eating at least 2 ½ cups of vegetables and fruits each day
  • Choosing whole-grain breads, pasta, and cereals (such as barley and oats) instead of breads, cereals, and pasta made from refined grains, and brown rice instead of white rice.
  • Choosing fish, poultry, or beans instead of red meat (beef, pork, and lamb) and instead of processed meat (bacon, sausage, lunch meats, and hot dogs).
  • Drinking more water and less of sugar-sweetened beverages such as soft drinks, sports drinks, and fruit-flavored drinks.
  • Limiting refined carbohydrate foods, including pastries, candy, sugar-sweetened breakfast cereals, and other high-sugar foods.
  • Avoiding calorie-dense foods such as French fries, potato and other chips, ice cream, doughnuts, and other sweets.

Participants also received the highest health scores if they never smoked, if they got more than 30 minutes per day of moderate or vigorous activity (including brisk walking), if they kept their body weight within a body mass index (BMI) range of 18.5 – 24.9, and if they limited alcohol to less than 15 grams a day for women and less than 30 grams a day for men. That calculates to about one drink a day for women and two for men.

  • New grants funded to reduce side effects of immunotherapy

    As the world marks Melanoma Awareness Month, the American Cancer Society (ACS) and the Melanoma Research Alliance (MRA) selected the first group of scientists to receive newly established research grants to investigate how to reduce rare, but serious, side effects resulting from cancer treatments with checkpoint inhibitors, a type of immunotherapy.

    Last June, MRA and ACS formed a joint grant-making partnership with the goal of maximizing the overall outcomes for patients treated with checkpoint inhibitors and minimizing toxicity by finding ways to better predict, prevent, and/or minimize the side effects of this game-changing treatment approach.

    Checkpoint inhibitor drugs target certain proteins in cells called PD-1, PD-L1 and CTLA-4, which prevent T-cells from attacking cancer cells. The checkpoint inhibitor drugs allow the immune system to recognize and attack tumor cells.

    Immunotherapy drugs have revolutionized melanoma treatment, and have also shown promise in treating several other cancer types including lung, head and neck, kidney, bladder, Merkel cell carcinoma, classical Hodgkin lymphoma, and MSI-H cancers. However, sometimes the treatments can also result in the immune system attacking healthy cells, which can cause a range of side effects from mild to sometimes life threatening.

    Two researchers were granted the first ACS-MRA Multidisciplinary Team Awards:

    • Kai Wucherpfennig, MD, PhD, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, will conduct a clinical trial to discover whether it is better to treat patients' ipilimumab-induced colitis with steroids or the immunosuppressant infliximab. Ipilimumab is the first FDA-approved drug for metastatic melanoma patients. Some patients experience a variety of side effects, including inflammation in the colon (colitis), which if left untreated can be life-threatening. This study is designed to develop a better treatment for colitis that preserves the activity of the immune system against the cancer and to assess the cells and inflammatory molecules they produce which cause colitis that could be targeted in patients who do not respond to current therapies.
    • David Gerber, MD, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, will conduct a large, multi-center clinical trial to determine if pre-existing, often clinically unknown autoimmunity, increases the risk of immune-related adverse events to immunotherapy. Dr. Gerber's goal is to build on data from a small pilot study in patients taking immune checkpoint inhibitors, which suggested that baseline levels of certain antibodies and proteins in the blood may be associated with risk of immune related adverse events. The goal is to improve treatment outcomes, possibly increase under-used immunotherapy combination regimens, and possibly predict treatment efficacy.

    Three researchers were granted the first ACS-MRA Pilot Awards:

    • Suephy Chen, MD, Emory University, will focus on improving the understanding of cutaneous immunotherapy-related skin side effects in melanoma patients, which are often treated with steroids. In some cases, side effects can be so severe that patients choose to stop taking the therapy that might cure them of their deadly skin cancer, and do not take steroids. Dr. Chen's study includes clinical examination by a dermatologist, tissue samples of the rash, bloodwork, and surveys completed by patients, to characterize the skin side effects precisely. The goal is to be able to intervene early when a patient develops side effects and maybe even administer therapy that is tailored to the type of rash occurring.
    • Betina Yanez, PhD, Northwestern University. The goal of Dr. Yanez's research is to establish the feasibility of an evidence-based, web-delivered oncology program, "OncoLink" to improve the management of immune checkpoint inhibitor side effects. If found effective, OncoLink has the potential to improve the care of patients receiving immune checkpoint inhibitors and may improve clinical outcomes such as disease progression and survival.
    • Bianca Santomasso, MD, PhD, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Institute. Dr. Santomasso's research will focus on the relatively rare, but probably underestimated and poorly understood, neurologic immune-related adverse events or neurotoxicities, which can affect a patient's brain and nervous system. If a correlation between certain neurotoxicities and immune checkpoint inhibitors can be found, it could lead to the creation and refinement of clinical guidelines for identifying and treating these toxicities. Dr. Santomasso also plans to identify non-invasive candidate autoantibody biomarkers from patients who experience neurologic side effects after treatment with immune checkpoint inhibitors.

    The grants are funded by MRA and ACS under a joint agreement. The multiyear grants go into effect July 1, 2018. MRA and ACS wish to acknowledge the generous support for their programs from individuals and Bristol-Myers Squibb, maker of the immunotherapy drugs ipilimumab and nivolumab.

  • Coffee and cancer: What the research really shows

    Researchers have been investigating the links between coffee and cancer for decades. But there is still a lot they don't know. In 2016, an expert panel convened by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) – the arm of the World Health Organization that is responsible for assessing whether certain substances cause cancer – could not conclude that drinking coffee is carcinogenic based on the current evidence available.

    And now the coffee-cancer connection is in the news again. A March 28 California court ruling about a coffee warning related to a chemical formed during the roasting process (called acrylamide) has raised questions among consumers.

    So, what do coffee drinkers need to know? In this interview, American Cancer Society researchers, Susan Gapstur, PhD, and Marjorie McCullough, ScD, provide insights into what studies to date really show when it comes to coffee and cancer, and discuss what other research is still needed.

    Q. What does the research show about the link between coffee and cancer?

    A. Numerous studies have shown that coffee drinking is associated with a lower risk of dying from all causes of death. However, associations with cancer overall or with specific types of cancer are unclear. In 2016, an expert working group convened for the International Agency for Research on Cancer Monographs Programme reviewed the world's body of human and laboratory research on coffee drinking and cancer risk, and they found the evidence of carcinogenicity of coffee drinking to be "unclassifiable".

    They also found that coffee drinking is not a cause of female breast, pancreas, and prostate cancers, but may reduce the risk of uterine endometrium and liver cancers. The evidence was judged to be inadequate for other cancer types. Reasons for the lack of convincing evidence included inconsistent results across studies and issues with data quality.

    Additionally, because smokers also tend to be coffee drinkers, it is difficult to completely account for tobacco use in studies of coffee and strongly tobacco-related cancers. These issues can be addressed by examining risk in non-smokers, or with detailed statistical adjustment for smoking. For example, early research suggested that coffee increased the risk of bladder cancer, but the true causal factor was later found to be smoking.

    Q. And, what about research into whether coffee is associated with a lower cancer risk?

    A. Recent studies find that coffee may lower the risk of several types of cancer, including head and neck, colorectal, breast, and liver cancer, although the potential beneficial effects of coffee are not completely understood. Hundreds of biologically active compounds including caffeine, flavonoids, lignans, and other polyphenols are found in roasted coffee. These and other coffee compounds have been shown to increase energy expenditure, inhibit cellular damage, regulate genes involved in DNA repair, have anti-inflammatory properties and/or inhibit metastasis, among other activities. There is also evidence that coffee consumption is associated with lower risk of insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes, which have been linked to higher risks of colorectal, liver, breast and endometrial cancer incidence and/or mortality.

    Q. What is acrylamide and what do we know about its link to cancer?

    A. Coffee can contain acrylamide, a chemical that is also used in certain industrial processes and has been commercially available since the 1950s. In addition to coffee, acrylamide is also found in French fries (frying causes acrylamide formation), toasted bread, snack foods, like potato chips and pretzels, crackers, biscuits, cookies and cereals, and in tobacco products. Acrylamide is classified by IARC as a "probable carcinogen," based primarily on genotoxicity experiments in animals. In 2002, Swedish scientists discovered that acrylamide could be formed from asparagine (an amino acid) and sugar during high-heat cooking. This discovery led to intensified research into the association between acrylamide intake from diet and cancer risk in humans. In 2011 and 2014, two large studies summarized the evidence in humans and found no association between dietary acrylamide and risk of several cancers.

    Q. What is the bottom line when it comes to coffee – should people be worried about drinking it?

    A.  Overall, it seems that there may be health benefits to coffee drinking, but the risks remain unclear. Further research is needed to more fully understand the biologic mechanisms underlying associations of coffee drinking, acrylamide exposure, and cancer risk. Regardless, when considering behavioral approaches to reduce cancer risk, it is worth keeping in mind that preventing smoking initiation and improving smoking cessation rates remain the most important ways to reduce cancer mortality rates worldwide. After smoking, we also know that certain healthy lifestyle habits can significantly minimize cancer risk: these include limiting alcohol consumption, maintaining a healthy body weight throughout adulthood, being physically active, and consuming a mostly plant-based diet. If you are concerned about acrylamide exposure, you may also consider limiting intake of French fries, chips, and cookies, which is consistent with the American Cancer Society's dietary guidelines.   

    NOTE: This story by Elizabeth Mendes first appeared on

  • Obesity rates continue to rise among adults in the U.S.

    The rates of American adults with obesity have continued to increase over the past decade according to researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In the years between 2007-2008 and 2015-2016, the report says the rates of obesity rose significantly among adults, from 33.7% to 39.6%. Rates of severe obesity increased during this time from 5.7% to 7.7%. The report was published online March 23, 2018 as a research letter in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

    The report defines obesity as having a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or greater and defines severe obesity as having a BMI of 40 or greater. For example, an adult who is 5' 9" tall and weighs 203 pounds has a BMI of 30. An adult who is 5' 9" tall and weighs 271 pounds has a BMI of 40. A healthy weight for this height, according to the CDC, is between 125 and 168 pounds.

    The report shows an overall trend toward a slight increase in obesity rates among youth ages 2 to 19, but this increase is not steep enough to be statistically significant. Rates of obesity among youth rose from 16.8% during 2007-2008 to 18.5% during 2015-2016. For youth, the researchers defined obesity as a BMI in the 95th percentile or above. They defined severe obesity as a BMI of at least 120% of the 95th percentile. BMI is calculated differently for children than it is for adults. For example, a 10-year-old boy of average height (4' 8") who weighs 102 pounds would fall into the 95th percentile for BMI, and would fit the definition for obesity.

    The researchers made their calculations using data from 27,449 adults and 16,875 youth enrolled in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.

    Obesity and cancer

    People with obesity are at higher risk than people of healthy weight to develop many serious diseases and health conditions, including heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and certain cancers.

    Being overweight is clearly linked with cancers of the breast (in women past menopause), colon and rectum, endometrium, esophagus, kidney, and pancreas. There is also evidence that excess weight may contribute to cancers of the gallbladder, liver, cervix, and ovary, as well as non-Hodgkin lymphoma, multiple myeloma, and aggressive forms of prostate cancer. Excess body weight is thought to be responsible for about 8% of all cancers in the United States, as well as about 7% of all cancer deaths.

    If you are overweight, consider making some lifestyle changes. Studies show that even a small weight loss – 10% of your current weight – lowers the risk of several diseases.

    The American Cancer Society recommends that people try to get to and stay at a healthy weight throughout life by eating a healthy diet and getting enough physical activity. A healthy diet includes lots of vegetables and fruits, whole grains, beans, and lower calorie beverages while limiting high-calorie foods, between-meal snacks, and added sugars.

    The American Cancer Society also recommends that adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity activity each week (or a combination of these), preferably spread throughout the week. Children and teens should get at least 1 hour of moderate or vigorous intensity activity each day, with vigorous activity on at least 3 days each week. Moderate activity is about the level of a brisk walk, while vigorous activity increases your breathing and heart rate, and makes you sweat.

    It's also important to limit the amount of time during the day you spend sitting or lying down. Long hours of sedentary behavior have been linked to diabetes, heart disease, some types of cancer, and shorter life.

    American Cancer Society research

    The American Cancer Society (ACS) is currently funding almost $12 million worth of grants for obesity-related research in labs at research centers across the US. The studies are wide ranging, including how chemical processes in the body lead to obesity, the impact of obesity on cancer risk, progression, and survival, and ways to encourage lifestyle behaviors known to reduce obesity in adults and children.

    In addition, ACS researchers are conducting their own studies about excess body weight and the links to cancer. Many of these studies rely on data from the Cancer Prevention Study II, a study of approximately 1.2 million American men and women which began in 1982. ACS researchers also collaborate on other studies here in the US and around the globe to find out more about the factors that lead to excess weight gain and which cancer types are linked to excess weight.

    NOTE: This story by Stacy Simon first appeared on

  • 110 grants totaling more than $47M awarded to researchers at 72 institutions nationwide

    This year, funding was approved for 110 grants totaling $47,624,000 to researchers and health professionals at 72 institutions nationwide in the first of two grant cycles. Of the grants, 101 are new while nine are renewals of previous grants. The grants go into effect July 1, 2018. A full list by state can be viewed here.

    Since 1946, the American Cancer Society has funded research and training of health professionals to investigate the causes, prevention, and early detection of cancer, as well as new treatments, cancer survivorship, and end of life support for patients and their families. In those more than 70 years, our extramural research grants program has devoted more than $4.6 billion to cancer research and is honored to have given funding to 47 investigators who went on to win the Nobel Prize.

    Two individuals have been awarded the prestigious five-year renewable American Cancer Society Clinical Research Professorship:

    • Owen A. O'Connor, MD, PhD, Columbia University, New York. While there have been unprecedented improvements in the care of patients with some types of lymphoma, peripheral T-cell lymphomas (PTCL) have yet to benefit from these advances. Dr. Connors’ lab has invented and/or developed two of the three drugs approved by the FDA that show promising results. The team now seeks to capitalize on this momentum, hoping to move PTCL to the forefront of translational cancer medicine.
    • Ronald M. Epstein, MD, University of Rochester, New York, will continue his work on mindfulness in clinical care of patients, including using avatars—human-like figures on screen that can accurately respond to content and emotions and give real-time feedback to improve communication between patients and their health care providers.

    One American Cancer Society Clinical Research Professor was renewed for a 5-year term: Stephen J. Meltzer, MD, Johns Hopkins University, is investigating early diagnosis and cancer development in Barrett’s esophagus, the required precancerous precursor of a type of esophageal cancer that is increasing at alarming rates in the U.S.

    Highlights of the investigator initiated studies approved for funding in the current grant cycle include:

    • Mo Motamedi, PhD, Massachusetts General Hospital, will focus on two major challenges in cancer treatment: resistance to chemotherapy and the recurrence of the disease. His lab will focus on the observation that a small number of non-dividing cancer cells originating from the primary tumor disperse throughout the body and remain in a state of dormancy called quiescence. Dr. Motamedi hopes the work will lead to the identification and eventual development of new therapies against dormant cancer cells.
    • Lindsey Seldin, PhD, Vanderbilt University, will investigate the mechanism(s) regarding how early breast tissue abnormalities lead to ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS), with the hope of improving breast cancer therapies to stop metastatic breast cancer. Determining the underlying cause of DCIS-associated cell displacement will provide critical insights into how tumor formation begins, and could also identify potential protein targets for early breast cancer prevention and/or treatment.
    • Catherine C. Smith, MD, University of California, San Francisco, aims to identify genes that lead to resistance to targeted therapies used against the approximately 30% of acute myeloid leukemia (AML) cases with FLT3 mutations. Her team hopes to pinpoint mutations that cause resistance to FLT3 inhibitors in patients and identify strategies to overcome these mechanisms of resistance.
    • Breelyn Wilky, MD, University of Miami, will conduct a clinical trial of combination axitinib, a VEGF inhibitor, with pembrolizumab, an immune checkpoint inhibitor, for patients with sarcomas, rare cancers of bone and soft tissue that affect otherwise healthy patients of all ages, including children and young adults. The work may help to identify which patients are most likely to respond to immunotherapy, leading to earlier use of this treatment in cases where chemotherapy is likely to fail, and may inform the next generation of clinical trials of immune checkpoint inhibitors with other combination treatments. 
    • Lyle Fagnan, MD, Oregon Health and Science University. Although the United States’ Healthy People 2020 goal for completion of the human papilloma virus (HPV) vaccine series by age 13 to 15 years is 80%, only 40% of females and 21% of males currently complete it. Dr. Fagnan will use a rigorous study design to test novel interventions in rural primary care practices and rural community-based organizations intended to increase HPV vaccination completion in both males and females aged 11-17 years.
    • Courtney E. Sullivan, MSN, University of Alabama at Birmingham. Eighty percent of the world's children with cancer live in limited-resource countries where survival averages a dismal 20%. Nurses, who comprise the largest group of health workers globally, are responsible for delivering 90% of patient care. Ms. Sullivan proposes to develop measures of nursing quality and its influence on childhood cancer outcomes across the world. These global indicators will be applicable across varied-resource settings and countries, allowing hospitals to collect information about nursing care and use it to enhance nursing quality and outcomes for children, ultimately contributing to improving childhood cancer survival and outcomes worldwide.

    The Council for Extramural Research also approved 90 grant applications totaling more than $43.1 million that could not be funded due to budgetary constraints. These “pay-if” applications represent work that passed the Society’s multi-disciplinary review process but are beyond the Society’s current funding resources. They are called “Pay-If” because they can be and often are subsidized by donors who wish to support research that would not otherwise be funded. In 2017, more than $11.5 million in additional funding helped finance 39 “pay-if” applications.

  • Refreshed page on highlights our 147 Research Professors

    A refreshed, comprehensive list of American Cancer Society Research Professors and Clinical Research Professors is now available on 

    Research Professor grants are our most prestigious funding awards, and, since 1957, 147 top scientists and clinicians have received them.

    The revamped webpage features an alphabetized listing of all awardees. You can find each professor's current or most recent institution, the term of the grant, the institution where the grant was awarded, and the primary area of research. In the future, links to associated articles will be added.

    The ACS Research Professor Award provides support for full-time, academic investigators who:

    • Have achieved the rank of Full Professor within the last 15 years
    • Already made seminal contributions relevant to cancer
    • Will continue to provide leadership in their research area

    The ACS Clinical Research Professor Award provides support for outstanding clinician-scientists who are dedicated to facilitating advances in the clinical cancer arena, while also working on clinical problems that may be addressed by a wide range of research. 

    The awards are primarily honorific and provide funds of $80,000 per year. The money is unrestricted and the investigators are encouraged to use it on highly creative or high-risk ideas.  

    The initial award is for five years and may be renewed for a second five-year period. The title of American Cancer Society Professor can be used throughout the remainder of the scientist's career. 

    ACS Professors are expected to be spokespersons for ACS and cancer in general. If you want to enlist an ACS Professor as a speaker, please contact our Extramural Research Department at first.

    At the bottom of this page, you'll also find information about our research programs, research we conduct, research we fund, cancer facts and statistics, ACS researchers currently funded, how to apply for a grant, and the infographics gallery. This is a great resource to share with current and prospective donors, as well as any potential grantees.



  • Tobacco Atlas: Big tobacco is targeting the world's most vulnerable to increase profits

    The sixth edition of The Tobacco Atlas and its companion website finds the tobacco industry is increasingly targeting vulnerable populations in emerging markets, such as Africa, Asia, and the Middle East, where people are not protected by strong tobacco control regulations. The report was released at the 17th World Congress on Tobacco OR Health in Cape Town, South Africa.

    The Atlas, co-authored by ACS and Vital Strategies, graphically details the scale of the tobacco epidemic around the globe. It shows where progress has been made in tobacco control, and describes the latest products and tactics being deployed by the tobacco industry to grow its profits and delay or derail tobacco control efforts. In response to an evolving tobacco control landscape, the Sixth Edition includes new chapters on regulating novel products, partnerships, tobacco industry tactics and countering the industry. 

    In 2016 alone, tobacco use caused more than 7.1 million deaths worldwide (5.1 million in men, 2.0 million in women). Most of these deaths were attributable to cigarette smoking, while 884,000 were related to secondhand smoke. The increase in tobacco-related disease and death has been outpaced by the increase in industry profits. The combined profits of the world's biggest tobacco companies exceeded $62.27 billion in 2015, the last year on record for all the major companies. This is equivalent to $9,730 for the death of each smoker, an increase of 39% since the last Atlas was published in 2015, when the figure stood at $7,000.  

    "Every death from tobacco is preventable, and every government has the power reduce the human and economic toll of the tobacco epidemic," said Jeffrey Drope, PhD, co-editor and author of The Atlas and our vice president, Economic and Health Policy Research. "It starts by resisting the influence of the industry and implementing proven tobacco control policies." (Jeffrey is pictured in the top image.)

    "Tobacco causes harm at every stage of its life cycle, from cultivation to disposal," said Dr. Neil Schluger, Vital Strategies' senior advisor for science and co-editor and author of The Atlas. "It is linked to an ever-increasing list of diseases, burdens health systems, and exacerbates poverty, especially when a breadwinner falls ill and dies from tobacco use. . . The only way to avert this harm is for all governments to vigorously implement the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control and to enforce the proven strategies that reduce tobacco use."

    Tobacco use and exposure to secondhand smoke costs the global economy more than two trillion dollars every year – equivalent to almost 2% of the world's total economic output. Low- and middle-income countries represent more than 80% of tobacco users and tobacco-related deaths, placing an increased share of tobacco-related costs on those who can least afford it. A growing proportion of that burden will fall on countries across Africa in the future, if governments do not implement tobacco control policies now.

    Africa is at a tipping point

    The Sixth Edition of The Tobacco Atlas reveals that the tobacco industry deliberately targets countries that lack tobacco control laws and exploits governments, farmers, and vulnerable populations across Africa. In Sub-Saharan Africa alone, consumption increased by 52% between 1980 and 2016 (from 164 billion to 250 billion sticks). This is being driven by population growth and aggressive tobacco marketing in countries like Lesotho, where prevalence is estimated to have increased from 15% in 2004 to 54% in 2015. Economic growth has increased consumers' ability to afford tobacco products and there is a lack of tobacco control interventions to deter tobacco use. Furthermore, in countries like Ethiopia, Nigeria, and Senegal, smoking is now more common among youth than adults – potentially increasing the future health and economic burden of tobacco in these countries. 

    Yet Africa has seen real successes recently. Ghana and Madagascar have introduced comprehensive bans on tobacco advertising, promotion, and sponsorship. Burkina Faso, Djibouti, Kenya, and Madagascar have implemented graphic warnings on cigarettes, an important intervention in countries with multiple dialects and for citizens in those countries who have low levels of literacy. South Africa has implemented consecutive tobacco tax increases to deter consumption, and Kenya has implemented a highly effective track-and-trace system to track and reduce illicit trade. These countries are setting an example to others across the world.

    Other examples of effective tobacco control policies

    In spite of the tobacco industry's efforts to impede progress, global cigarette consumption and tobacco use prevalence have declined recently thanks to an overall increase in the adoption of proven and innovative tobacco control measures. Tobacco taxes alone could deliver a 30% relative reduction in smoking prevalence by 2025. This would save 38 million lives and $16.9 trillion, just from former smokers becoming healthier.

    • In 2013, the Philippines implemented one of the largest tobacco tax increases in a low- and middle-income country, leading more than 1 million smokers to quit.
    • Turkey's comprehensive tobacco control strategy reduced smoking prevalence from 39.3% in 2000 to 25.9% in 2015.
    • Analysis by Australia's government found that plain packaging alone resulted in 108,228 fewer smokers between December 2012 and September 2015.
    • Brazil has banned all tobacco additives such as flavors used to attract children. WHO predicts that there will be 3 million fewer smokers in Brazil between 2015 and 2025.


    Tobacco Atlas - Tobacco Use in Africa

    Tobacco Atlas - Tobacco Industry's Actions 

    Tobacco Atlas - Successful Policies

    Photos courtesy of Photo©Marcus Rose/The Union

  • ACS teams up with medical innovation company to shorten bench-to-bedside time

    The American Cancer Society is partnering with the Atlanta-based Global Center for Medical Innovation (GCMI) to more rapidly bring groundbreaking research from the lab to the clinic. ACS and GCMI plan to jointly raise $5 million to sustain the program. 

    While ACS conducts research and funds research through grants to hundreds of scientists and health professionals nationwide, bridging the gap between early research and actual treatment can often be very challenging. 

    In its role, GCMI will bring together members of the medical device community, including universities, research centers, hospitals, clinicians, and investors, to accelerate commercialization of innovative medical technologies that come out of ACS-funded research, while reducing the time and cost of bringing new ideas to market. 

    “Fostering efficient, rapid innovation from the bench to the bedside in cancer care is a high priority for the ACS,” says Bill Chambers, PhD., our senior vice president, Extramural Research. “This new partnership will allow GCMI and the ACS to identify, develop, and promote technology innovation from among projects within the ACS portfolio of funded research.” 

    Bill noted: “We will initially focus on medical device research which we have previously funded and which is poised for further development in partnership with GCMI.  For instance, things like imaging tools for real time monitoring of tumor growth or response to treatment.” 

    The ACS has funded more than 24,000 investigators through its Extramural Research program, and this provides a wealth of opportunities which may benefit patients as a result of this partnership.

    Three to five projects will be identified and launched each year with the goal of initiating one project each quarter. 

    Project duration will be assessed during the kick-off phase, which includes the identification of resource needs, e.g., external experts, time and materials, and the creation of a timeline for the innovators to reach key developmental milestones.

    More about the Global Center for Medical Innovation 

    GCMI is the Southeast’s first and only comprehensive medical device innovation center dedicated to accelerating development, building businesses, and improving health. It opened in April 2012, and to date has worked with more than 50 different startups, clinician innovators, university tech transfer offices, and academic researchers to design, engineer, prototype, and facilitate commercialization of a broad range of innovative medical devices. It is an independent, 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.

  • Vote for ACS in the STAT Madness research competition!

    Remember the ACS research study that found rates of colorectal cancer increasing in younger people? 

    Well, we have entered that study into the STAT Madness competition, a bracket-style tournament to find the best innovations in science and medicine in 2017.

    To vote for ACS, find our logo and click on it. Make sure to use Chrome, not Explorer, when doing this. We're matched up with Yale University right now, and its leading, so please let's all vote! 

    Rounds of voting

    Unlike some brackets, where you fill in your picks all at once, this goes round by round. The round of 64 vote starts on Feb. 26, and the championship round finishes on March 30, at 5 p.m. ET. The full schedule is here

    STAT’s team of award-winning journalists chose the 64 discoveries from a field of almost 150 entries. Vote for ACS, round by round. The winner we be named on April 2. While the crowd voting is going on, STAT will be determining its Editors’ Pick.

    If you don't want to miss a round, sign up for STAT Madness alerts. You will get notified every time a new round opens. You can also keep track of the competition on social media via #statmadness2018. 

    About STAT

    STAT is a national publication focused on finding and telling compelling stories about health, medicine, and scientific discovery. Its web address is It is produced by Boston Globe Media and its editorial team is led by Richard Berke, a longtime reporter and editor at The New York Times.

    Feel free to spread the word through your social media channels, and please use the hashtag #statmadness2018. 

    More about the study

    If you recall, ACS researchers led by Rebecca Siegel, MPH, strategic director of Surveillance Information Services in our Intramural Research Department, partnered with the National Cancer Institute to analyze 30 years of colorectal cancer data to better understand the trend. One key finding? Compared to people born around 1950, people born around 1990 have twice the risk of getting colon cancer, and four times the risk of getting rectal cancer. Read the full study here.

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