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Development and Evaluation of Cancer Prevention Strategies in Japan

From “Cancer Research” to “Cancer Prevention”

When thinking of everyday lives of Japanese, what factors among the lifestyle habits that are said to cause cancer, contribute to higher risk of what type of cancer by how much? What is the best advise for holding down the risk of cancer while keeping in mind overall health? How can prevention methods be realized? In order to obtain the answer, first, all results of epidemiologic studies conducted in Japan must be encompassed, investigated scientifically, and evaluated accurately. On this basis, this research group was established with the final goal of suggesting methods involving lifestyle modification where definite effects can be expected for decreasing the incidence of cancer in Japanese, and developing specific prevention methods that are easy to be used to modify behaviors of individuals. Each member of the research group, including the principal investigator, is involved in one of the major epidemiologic studies conducted in Japan. In other words, this research is implemented as a study to bridge basic results of the investigation to practical application (translational research), through a collaborative effort of the front line medical professionals searching for causes of cancer and prevention methods.

Background of Research

From the cancer cause awareness survey, knowledge of the general public regarding cancer prevention does not seem to be based on scientific grounds, but is temporary knowledge swayed by what they hear in the media. At the same time, the experts have opportunities to present their individual studies, but had not collected associated literature for comprehensive evaluations. Even though many of the causes of cancer are known to be environmental factors, sufficient research results have not been put together to determine what lifestyle habits increase how much of the cancer risk. Scientific papers are characterized by that they are evaluated for objectivity of each method or originality of results, publicized, criticized, and accumulated to be reused for a new research or an overall evaluation. Utilizing such characteristics, experts from all over the world gather to conduct an international evaluation of cancer risks through organizations such as WHO. However, evaluation drawn from the results of studies of the Western countries, where environment and backgrounds differ, may not necessarily be applicable to the Japanese people. In order to evaluate the overall cancer risk in Japanese people based on scientific evidence, assessment of what kind and how much of the research results have been accumulated, and in what areas research is lacking, must be made. Nonetheless, to solve the problems, assessment is not enough. As the next step, a long term goal needs to be set to complete the evidence that is lacking, develop effective methods based on an overall evaluation, test them, and familiarize the public of them.

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