World Cancer Research Fund
Annual Report 2015–2016

A message from Marilyn, our Founder

When I was growing up, nobody talked much about cancer, let alone how it could be prevented. Things are different now, and I’m proud to say that’s mainly due to the work of World Cancer Research Fund.

We’ve established ourselves as the world’s leading authority on how cancer is linked to diet, weight and physical activity. Thanks to our funding of over 25 years of groundbreaking research, we know that there are many things we can do to prevent cancer. Cancer prevention through lifestyle is now accepted worldwide as scientific fact and people are beginning to understand how they can reduce their cancer risk.

So much of cancer prevention boils down to common sense about taking care of our bodies. The evidence shows that a third of the most common cancers could be prevented if we all ate a healthy diet, were physically active and maintained a healthy weight. That’s about 80,000 fewer people getting cancer in the UK every year.

I’m proud that we’ve put cancer prevention on the map

We will continue to make sure it remains a global priority. But we know there is still much more to be done, and we need to keep funding this vital research to help even more people have healthier, cancer-free futures.

Marilyn Gentry, Founder & Chief Executive

Our vision, mission and goals

We want to live in a world where no one develops a preventable cancer

Our mission is to champion the latest and most authoritative scientific research from around the world on cancer prevention and survival through diet, weight and physical activity so that we can help people make informed lifestyle choices and reduce their cancer risk.

What we do

In the UK, cancer affects one in two people. We investigate the causes of cancer and help people to understand what they can do to prevent it. We:

  • FUND scientific research into the links between cancer and lifestyle, particularly diet, weight and physical activity.
  • ANALYSE all the research in this area from around the world to ensure our message is current and based on the most accurate evidence.
  • GIVE people practical, easy-to-understand advice about how to reduce their risk of cancer.
  • WORK with governments and decision-makers to influence policy.

Through scientific research, healthy living advice and policy influence, our work benefits everyone who wants to reduce their cancer risk

We think it is vital that all research on cancer prevention and survival is pieced together

Analysing research by scientists around the world into the links between diet, physical activity, weight and cancer

Our Continuous Update Project

“The CUP is a vital project because it provides scientists researching diet, weight, physical activity and cancer with a ‘one-stop shop’ of information … a unique cancer prevention resource.”

Dr Teresa Norat

Lead Researcher, Imperial College London

What is the Continuous Update Project (CUP)?
The CUP is World Cancer Research Fund’s ongoing programme to analyse cancer prevention research from all over the world as soon as it’s published.

We are continually adding research to the unique CUP database, held and systematically reviewed by a team of scientists at Imperial College London. The database is invaluable to researchers wishing to study particular questions relating to cancer and its links to diet, weight and physical activity.

Why is the CUP so important?
Expert Reports
CUP findings inform our Expert Reports, which give a comprehensive analysis of the worldwide body of evidence on cancer prevention.

Reports on individual cancers
Analysis from the CUP helps us to produce regular reports on individual cancers. This year, we published reports on the links between diet, weight and physical activity and bladder, stomach and oesophageal cancers.

Cancer Prevention Recommendations
Our 10 recommendations to help everyone reduce their cancer risk are based on the latest scientific evidence available from the CUP.

Research priorities
The CUP helps us identify priority areas for research in the future.

Cancer prevention through … research

Other cancer charities focus on treatment. We’re different. We focus on prevention.

For over 25 years, we have been funding innovative research projects that contribute to filling gaps in our scientific knowledge about cancer. Our research looks at the links between diet, weight, exercise and cancer. Every year we invest in research across different areas of science, including both review projects, such as the Continuous Update Project, and traditional laboratory-based projects.

Highlights from the research we funded this year

Colorectal and endometrial (lining of the womb) cancers and obesity
Professor Andrew Renehan and his team at the University of Manchester aim to establish a clear causal link between obesity and a poor survival rate and increased risk of cancer recurrence in patients with colorectal and endometrial cancers. We hope that the results will help health professionals to provide appropriate weight management advice to patients.

Mechanisms: the biological processes causing cancer
The research team at Flinders University, Australia, are investigating the epigenetic links between dietary fibre intake and polyp formation in patients with Familial Adenomatous Polyposis (who suffer from high risk of colorectal cancer). This will help confirm in vitro studies that suggest fibre fermentation in the gut reduces the growth of polyps.

Recent results from our research programme

Overweight or obese
11 cancers are linked to being overweight or obese: post-menopausal breast, bowel, ovarian, womb, pancreatic, kidney, gallbladder, oesophageal, liver, stomach and advanced prostate cancers. After smoking, being overweight or obese is the next greatest risk factor for cancer.

In addition to bowel cancer, eating processed meat has now been linked to non-cardia stomach cancer.

Vegan diet
A vegan diet is associated with a lower risk of prostate cancer.

Long-term exposure to selenium is associated with a reduced risk of head and neck cancer.

Three alcoholic drinks per day can cause stomach cancer.

Building research capacity

While we have made huge advances in our understanding of cancer, there is still much to do to ensure that no one develops a preventable cancer. Through our International Academy we invest in future leaders in the field of nutritional epidemiology and cancer prevention.

One way we support our Fellows is by enabling them to develop specialist skills. In 2016, we provided funding for four talented Fellows to attend the prestigious International Course in Nutritional Epidemiology at Imperial College London, a course for which we provide a significant amount of content. These researchers are now applying the skills they learned to their research into the links between diet and cancer.

We now have 34 Fellows based in 20 countries around the world. They range from PhD students and associate professors to scientific and policy advisers.

In the UK, a shocking 62% of the adult population is currently overweight or obese

Cancer prevention through … policy and influence

We work with governments, schools, employers and health professionals to create change that supports people to reduce their cancer risk.

In 2016, the World Cancer Research Fund network was given official relations status with the World Health Organization (WHO). This means that our expertise is recognised and that we are a trusted adviser at the highest level of global health, which in turn increases our ability to speak and be heard on the global stage.

With the WHO, we are closely involved in the United Nations Decade of Action on Nutrition campaign, which aims to combat malnutrition in all its forms. Our 2015 report, Curbing Global Sugar Consumption, shows governments how to work towards and beyond the WHO sugar guideline – a key factor in reducing obesity and cancer risk.

As a partner of the WHO, we have been able to launch policy reports in the world’s most influential global health forum, the World Health Assembly. At the 2016 Assembly, we presented a paper about obesity and non-communicable diseases in a session with chef Jamie Oliver, of the Jamie Oliver Food Foundation, and Dr Margaret Chan, Director General of the WHO.

Demanding more on child obesity

The UK government’s childhood obesity strategy, launched in August 2016, fell well short of what we had hoped and campaigned for – there are still no plans to curb the advertising of unhealthy food to children, for instance. As a member of the Obesity Health Alliance, we are continuing to press the government to do more to protect children’s health, and we are taking a leading role in media campaigns.

Our clear, evidence-based information helps people make more informed choices about their health

Cancer prevention through … information and advice

Spreading our cancer prevention message

About a third of the most common cancers could be prevented by eating healthily, being physically active and maintaining a healthy weight. We want this powerful message to become as familiar to people as the link between smoking and cancer.

Our health information campaigns have dramatically raised people’s awareness of the links between diet, weight, exercise and cancer risk. Just as importantly, we have given people the tools and encouragement they need to make real changes to their lifestyle.

Our health information and advice are based on the most recent findings from our Continuous Update Project and new national guidance such as the updated recommendations for alcohol consumption. All our health information is produced in line with the Information Standard and is updated regularly. This year, we also published a new fish cookbook, Solely Fish.

Solely Fish Cookbook
Reaching supporters

Healthy You magazine is our oldest supporter communication, and has been distributed for 25 years. Every quarter, it’s mailed to around 115,000 people, keeping them up to date with our work, new research findings and advice on how to put our Cancer Prevention Recommendations into practice.

“As a cancer survivor, I really enjoy reading Healthy You. The recipes and stories inspire me to eat well and be as active as I can. It’s not always easy staying in shape, but once you stick at it, over time, it becomes a way of life and I do feel better for it. Because of my experience with cancer, I try to help World Cancer Research Fund in any way I can.”

Maggie Higglesden
Healthy You reader

Reaching readers

Visits to our new Healthy You blog are increasing all the time, helped by contributions from influential external bloggers. In 2016, our Healthy You blog made the Charity Blogs UK Top 10.

Reaching children

Our Great Grub Club website provides tools and resources to help children learn about eating well and being active in a fun way. Our Smart Snacking campaign supported families and young children to adopt healthier snacking habits.

Reaching the whole UK

Social media is one of the most effective ways of getting our cancer prevention messages across. This year, we gained our 10,000th follower on Facebook, and saw an overall increase in Facebook interactions of 79.5%. Our Twitter following increased by 32%, with a growth in engagement of 29%.

Cancer prevention through … information and advice

Supporting frontline healthcare professionals

Our work with health professionals helps us reach people at risk of cancer who might not otherwise come across our messages. We reach over 22,500 health professionals directly with our cancer prevention messages.

Our cancer prevention training for health professionals, accredited by the Royal Society for Public Health, is practical and popular. It’s flexible too, giving professionals a choice of online learning, office-based workshops or conferences to stay informed and up to date.

In partnership with online cancer research resource Oncology Central, we delivered our first webinar on obesity and cancer, which was viewed live by 123 health professionals.

Conferences in Bristol and Glasgow – locations with poor health outcomes – reached 159 health professionals and public health workers with our Cancer Prevention Recommendations and health tools.

An updated version of our magazine for health professionals, Digital Informed, was launched online in September 2016, increasing average page views by 378% over seven months compared with the same period in the previous year.

“Health professionals play an important role in reaching out to people… many of my patients have made significant changes and benefited health-wise as a result.”

Jaqui Walker

General practice nurse at Allan Park Medical Practice in Stirling and reviewer for Informed

A team of superheroes

At the heart of World Cancer Research Fund are our supporters. It’s thanks to them that we are able to achieve what we do.

Our events and challenges are a great way to raise awareness of the charity and live our message. Every year, more and more people are joining Team Can Prevent, raising money for us by taking part in marathons, fun runs, bike races and obstacle races.

“I decided to run in the 2016 London Marathon for World Cancer Research Fund because I wanted to do something in loving memory of all my grandparents. After seeing what all of these special people have been through over the past few years, I wanted to do my bit to raise awareness of the things we can all do to prevent cancers and to support this fantastic organisation in the lifesaving research it funds in the UK.”

Sam O'Connell

2016 London Marathon runner

Gifts in Wills

Jean Dyson and her husband Mike have included a gift in their wills to enable us to continue with our groundbreaking research.

They said: “We wanted to do something that would live on after us, something that would enable us to make a difference when we’re no longer around. If we can help – even just a little bit – to fund further research into protecting people against this deadly disease, we’ll be very happy.”

Sponsored skip

Children at Brimington Manor Infant and Nursery School near Chesterfield in Derbyshire took part in a sponsored skip.

“Family, friends and neighbours donated for every jump the child completed in two minutes,” says headteacher Kathryn Fretwell, “and we were bowled over by all the money that came in.

“The following day at school was designated ‘Fruity Friday’, with all the children asked to dress in fruity colours or in fruit-themed fancy dress. The children also learnt about the benefits of healthy eating and tasted different types of fruit.”

Our corporate partners

Our longest-standing partnership, with Informa, began in 2006, and they have raised an incredible £670,000 so far to support us in our work.

In 2016, staff from Informa’s offices around the world took part in a new event, Walk the World, walking around 20,000km between them and raising over £32,000. The event was shortlisted for Third Sector’s Business Charity Awards as Employee Engagement Initiative of the Year.

Informa have also created a business analysis tool for us that enables us to support those health professionals who need our help most.

Future Science Group
Oncology Central is Future Science Group’s online resource for the oncology community. As well as supporting us with fundraising and technical help, they work with us to produce free webinars – an ideal way to reach busy health professionals with our training.

Thank you

We are extremely grateful for the generous support of individuals, companies and charitable trusts, including:

Aztec Group
Future Science Group
Living-Water Ltd
Roche Products Ltd
Sharpe Digital

The Albert Hunt Trust
The Hospital Saturday Fund
The Margaret Murdoch Charitable Trust
The Rosetrees Trust
The Thomas Moffitt Clark Charitable Trust

We are also grateful to those trusts who have supported us and who wish to remain anonymous.

Financial information

World Cancer Research Fund UK income 2015–16

  • Donations (direct mail, cash gifts and other fundraising activities) – £3,416,568 40.6%
  • Legacies – £2,347,592 27.9%
  • Committed gifts – £1,400,539 16.6%
  • Gift Aid – £706,842 8.4%
  • Other – £552,449 6.5%

Total £8,423,990

World Cancer Research Fund UK expenditure 2015–16

  • Education, research and health policy programmes – £5,736,047 73.1%
  • Cost of generating funds – £2,111,215 26.9%
  • Other – £2,249 0.0%

Total £7,849,511

Message from the Chairman

The charts contain summary information for the statement of financial activities of World Cancer Research Fund for the year ended 30 September 2016, but are not the full statutory report and accounts. The full financial statements were approved by the Trustees on 18 May 2017 and subsequently submitted to the Charity Commission. World Cancer Research Fund received an unqualified audit report and copies may be obtained from the charity’s head office.

On behalf of the trustees

Laurence Isaacson CBE, Chairman

Looking forward

Someone is diagnosed with cancer every two minutes. There are 2.5 million people with cancer in the UK and that number is predicted to rise to 4 million by 2030.

Preventing cancer in the first place is key to saving lives. But if people do develop cancer, we want to be able to provide them with the latest evidence and research on how to live well beyond cancer diagnosis and how lifestyle factors, such as diet, weight and physical activity can help us live well for longer.

Next year we will:

  • Continue to fund research into and report on cancer prevention and survivorship through our Continuous Update Project (CUP).
  • Refine our grant programme to focus on cancer survivors and individual risk factors (such as height and genetic make-up).
  • Develop nutritional advice for people receiving cancer treatment.
  • Publish CUP reports on breast cancer, bowel cancer and mouth/throat cancers.
  • Publish findings from our research on breast cancer and Mediterranean diets, and on prostate cancer and selenium.

Registered with the Charity Commission in England and Wales (Registered Charity No. 1000739)