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Nutrition and Cancer Program


Diet, nutrition and physical activity all have an important role in determining the risk of developing certain common cancers. There is new research exploring how we can reduce the burden of cancer in our society just by modifying lifestyle habits.

It’s an attractive approach because focusing on prevention, rather than treatment, can help reduce health care costs. It also empowers people to take a greater role in their own health improvement.




The Nutrition and Cancer Program is a multidisciplinary group of investigators whose major aim is to remove the obstacles that keep our society from improving their health. They focus on the following goals:

  • To examine 1-carbon nutrients, retinoids, carotenoids, tea catechins and select antioxidant micronutrients to identify which of these dietary components genuinely convey protection against cancer, and to define under what conditions they exert these effects
    • To discern the molecular, biochemical and cellular mechanisms by which these compounds exert their preventive effects
    • To delineate endogenous and exogenous factors that interact with the abovementioned nutrients that further modify their cancer preventive effects (e.g. age, single nucleotide polymorphisms, alcohol and tobacco use)
  • To define those conditions under which the correction of obesity, or optimization of caloric balance and physical activity, impact on intermediary biomarkers of cancer risk, and to define the molecular, biochemical and cellular mechanisms by which these factors exert their effects
Principal Investigator + Research Team
  • Joel B Mason, MD
  • Xiang-Dong Wang, MD, PhD

A wide spectrum of disciplines is represented within this program, reflecting its cross-disciplinary nature.

Moreover, the members of this program have appointments in four schools within the university. Faculty membership within the Tufts University School of Medicine, Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, and the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging (HNRCA) are all represented within this program.

News, media + events

The members of this program meet on a monthly basis during the 9-month academic calendar. To cultivate cross-disciplinary collaborations, meetings typically include two speakers, one who is a member of the Nutrition and Cancer Program and one who is a member of a different program in the Cancer Center but whose research is related.

The dates each month vary, so it is important to watch for announcements sent out to Cancer Center members each month by the Cancer Center administration.

Special projects + Highlights

Nutritional Science Research Group
Many of the Nutrition and Cancer Program members are funded by the Nutritional Science Research Group at the National Cancer Institute (NCI), which continues to generate both Program Announcements and Requests For Applications of interest to investigators in this field.

Food, Nutrition, Physical Activity, and the Prevention of Cancer: a Global Perspective
This is a product of the American Institute for Cancer Research and represents several years of work by 21 experts in the field. The executive summary is an abbreviated version of the report, providing a summary of the recommendations based on the expert panel’s conclusions.

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