Our research on preventing cancer

Understanding the causes of different cancers and preventing more cases could save many thousands of lives.

Preventing breast cancer

Our researchers discovered that drugs usually used to treat breast cancer can help to prevent the disease in women at high risk.

What we're doing now

1 in 2 people will be diagnosed with cancer at some point in their lives. We're working hard to uncover the causes of cancer, and researching new ways to help reduce people's risk of developing the disease.

In London, Professor David Phillips and his team are investigating how chemicals in our environment can cause cancer, and how their impact may be linked to variations in our genes.

We are helping to fund EPIC: the largest ever study into lifestyle and cancer involving half a million people across Europe. Our researchers are studying thousands of people in the UK to understand how diet, physical activity and other factors are linked to cancer risk. 

Our researchers are also investigating drugs that may help to reduce the risk of cancer in some people. Professor John Burn in Newcastle showed that aspirin reduces the risk of people with Lynch syndrome developing bowel cancer: he's currently leading a clinical trial to find the most effective and safest dose to use.

And in Leicester, Professor Will Steward is investigating whether naturally-occuring chemicals in our food can help prevent cancer.

How we've made a difference so far

Here are just a few examples of our achievements. We...

  • Played a major role in understanding the long-term risks of smoking - the single biggest preventable cause of cancer death in the world - and we continue to campaign for effective tobacco control. 
  • Played a vital role in identifying the links between certain infections and cancer, including human papillomavirus (HPV) and cervical cancer. This paved the way for the introduction of the HPV vaccine, which will help protect future generations of women from cervical cancer.
  • Issued our first warning on the link between sun exposure and skin cancer back in 1935, and continue to highlight the importance of enjoying the sun safely.
  • Tracked the link between asbestos exposure and mesothelioma, laying the foundations for laws protecting future generations from the disease.
  • Helped fund the pioneering Million Women Study, which uncovered links between hormone replacement therapy (HRT) and breast, ovarian and womb cancer, changing the advice given to women about taking it.

Help us prevent more cancers

We receive no government funding for our research. Our life-saving work relies on the money you give us.

Donate now

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