The University of Stirling’s Professor Linda Bauld has been appointed as Cancer Research UK’s Cancer Prevention Champion – to lead the charity’s £6 million initiative to support cutting-edge research into lifestyle and behavioural changes that can prevent cancer.
It’s estimated that more than four in 10 cancer cases could be prevented by lifestyle changes, such as not smoking, keeping a healthy body weight, cutting back on alcohol, eating a healthy diet, keeping active and staying safe in the sun.
Cancer Research UK (CRUK) has matched a £3 million donation received from the Bupa Foundation in 2013 - to provide a £6 million cash injection that will fund the initiative for the next five years.
A new Policy Research Centre within Cancer Research UK, set up as part of the initiative, will help set the research agenda for the new funding streams. This will provide an in-house research facility capable of filling in any gaps in evidence needed to drive through policy changes aimed at preventing cancer.
Professor Bauld, who is Professor of Health Policy and Director of the Institute for Social Marketing at the University of Stirling is leading the new initiative with support from an International Advisory Board including world-leading scientists. In her new position – as the CRUK/Bupa Chair in Behavioural Research for Cancer Prevention – she will work on a part-time secondment over the next five years to further develop the charity's research and policy work on cancer prevention.
She said: “With health services already overstretched and people living longer, prevention is going to be vital to address the problem of cancer, alongside other diseases with lifestyle risk factors such as heart disease and diabetes.
“We know cutting UK smoking rates by just one per cent could save 3,000 lives a year, and it’s by far the biggest preventable cause of cancer. But other factors such as obesity and alcohol are also very important, and until now there’s been very little research into how we can help people strike the right balance in those areas.
“We've now seen real reductions in smoking rates, but that is only thanks to fierce advocacy backed by strong research evidence that has informed policy and influenced people's decisions about their own health.
“This initiative will build on that success by uniting scientists and policymakers with the expertise to tackle other important lifestyle factors linked to cancer.”
She added: “My appointment to this new position represents a significant commitment by CRUK to raise the profile of cancer prevention within the charity and with its wide range of external stakeholders.
“My appointment also builds on a firm foundation of existing links between Stirling researchers and CRUK and will expand the University's contribution to conducting research which is helping to tackle cancer.”