EU Science Hub

Mapping dietary prevention of cancer in the EU28: European National Cancer Plans and their coverage of dietary prevention of cancer

The European Commission has been active in supporting actions against cancer for over 25 years. More recently in 2009, a Communication on Action Against Cancer (European Partnership (COM (2009) 291 final)) was adopted and led to the formation of a joint action called the European Partnership for Action Against Cancer (EPAAC). While EPAAC is about to finish (February 2014), a new joint action is planned for cancer control and is scheduled to start in 2014. The Joint Research Centre (JRC), as the European Commission's in-house science service, has started activities in the areas of cancer care quality and cancer information as well as nutrition and public health. In close collaboration with the Directorate General for Health and Consumers (DG SANCO), the JRC will draw on its experience in harmonisation, its independence of private and commercial interests as well as its networking and collaboration capacities to facilitate and drive improvements both in cancer information and care quality . Improvements in both domains, together with cancer prevention – e.g. via improved diet and lifestyle – should make significant strides towards reducing the burden of cancer in Europe. The present report focuses on one particular aspect of cancer prevention - diets. It assesses the degree of attention given to dietary prevention of cancer in National Cancer Plans (NCPs) throughout the EU28 plus four additional countries (Norway, Switzerland, Iceland and Turkey). The reader will find a thorough summary of the content of these NCPs in regards to dietary prevention in this report. The report falls short of addressing the extent to which the measures proposed by NCPs were implemented or evaluated. In times of financial crisis, inexpensive but far reaching diet-related interventions are promising cost-effective strategies to cut cancer and other healthcare-related budgets. The effect of successfully implementing such measures will likely extend beyond reducing cancer incidence as it is likely to affect other diseases and conditions from obesity to type II diabetes and cardiovascular disease. It is our hope that this report will prompt a response that leads to further inclusion of dietary preventive measures in the fight against cancer.