Sydney-led cancer risk research named as 'Paper of the Year'

12 May 2023
Dr Elif Inan-Eroglu research recognised as Paper of the Year 2022
Researchers from the University of Sydney identify connections between cancer risk factors, including diabetes and alcohol consumption.
Dr Elif Inan Eroglu

University of Sydney-led research investigating cancer risk associated with factors related to obesity and alcohol consumption, published in the British Journal of Nutrition, has been awarded the journal’s 2022 'Paper of the Year'.

The work was led by Dr Elif Inan-Eroglu, a postdoctoral research fellow with the Charles Perkins Centre and Faculty of Medicine and Health.

“I’m delighted that the paper has received such recognition. This paper was absolutely a team effort, and this recognition also belongs to my co-authors." said Dr Inan-Eroglu.

“Our work highlights how analysis of long-term health datasets can offer valuable insights into the links between health and lifestyle, and we hope it can contribute to the ongoing discussion on the best possible clinical guidelines.”

The team looked at data for nearly 400,000 participants of the United Kingdom Biobank study—zeroing in on those who had developed alcohol- or obesity-related cancer during data collection. None of these participants reported having cancer when the study began.

This enabled the team to estimate the cancer risk associated with factors related to obesity and alcohol consumption—both independently and in combination. Factors related to obesity included body fat percentage, waist circumference, and body mass index.

Alcohol consumption, meanwhile, was measured by dividing drinkers into four groups: never drinkers; previous drinkers who no longer partake; those who reported drinking less than the UK-recommended guideline of 14 units of alcohol per week, or “within-guideline” drinkers; and those who drank more, or “above-guideline” drinkers.

Key findings

Past or current alcohol consumption by itself tended to link to an increased total cancer risk only at high levels. The study found the only type of drinking associated with alcohol-related cancer risk was drinking above the UK-recommended guidelines.

Each marker of obesity, however, was independently associated with an overall increased risk across all cancer outcomes at high and moderate levels.

Joint analyses showed that this risk appeared to be amplified by alcohol consumption, whether within or above the UK-recommended guideline. In particular, above-guideline drinkers who also showed high body fat percentage, waist circumference, and BMI had a higher total cancer risk.

The researchers hope the findings can help developing public health interventions and clinical guidelines that promote healthy living.

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