First TREC conference draws international interest

150 researchers came to the Center to discuss diet, exercise and obesity's relationship to cancer survival

A first-ever conference focused on the relationship of diet, physical activity and obesity to cancer survivorship and prognosis brought 150 attendees from around the world to the Hutchinson Center last week.

The seminar, held Oct. 6-8, was sponsored by the National Cancer Institute and NCI’s Transdisciplinary Research on Energetics and Cancer initiative, a five-year, $54 million effort aimed at reducing cancer linked with obesity, poor diet and low levels of physical of activity. The Public Health Sciences Division is home to one of TREC’s research centers and its coordinating center.

Dr. Anne McTiernan, head of Seattle’s TREC clinical site and a member of the conference program committee, said the transdisciplinary gathering brought multiple, complementary perspectives to the meeting.

More than 25 scientists, including former Center researchers Drs. Neli Ulrich and Debra Friedman, presented findings from epidemiological, molecular, clinical, behavioral and animal studies on the energy balance-survivorship connection.

“Energetics and its association with chronic disease is a hot topic because the obesity epidemic in this country is a major contributor to the health care problems facing the nation,” said Dr. Mark Thornquist, principal investigator of the TREC Coordination Center.

He said much of the literature on energetics and cancer relate to the association between diet, physical activity and obesity on the risk of cancer incidence, but very little attention has been paid to date on their effects on survival after cancer diagnosis.

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