Every year in the UK, over 350,000 people are diagnosed with cancer. It is thought that around one in ten of those cases could have been prevented through a better diet. Obesity is also a significant risk factor for developing cancer.
Central to the Quadram Institute’s mission is to understand what links diet, gut health, and the development of chronic conditions such as cancers, in order to provide better dietary advice, and better foods, to reduce the risk of developing cancer or, for specific cancers, slowing its progression.
There are over 200 different cancers. One focus of our research is on cancers linked to digestive health and metabolism, such as bowel cancer and liver cancer. We want to understand at the molecular and cellular level the events that lead to cancer.
This relies on gut biologists working closely with fundamental scientists and mathematical and network biologists, building computational models of the highly complex networks of signals between cells that regulate normal growth. With this knowledge, we can better understand how perturbations in these systems lead to abnormalities like cancer.
We want to explore recent evidence that links inflammatory conditions in the gut with liver disease and liver cancer by exploring the gut-liver axis.
We are also studying how metabolites derived from sulphur-containing foods modulate human metabolism to maintain and promote health. This is based on evidence that diets rich in these foods reduce the risk of several different cancers. In particular we are investigating prostate cancer, in conjunction with the University of East Anglia and the Norfolk & Norwich University Hospital, undertaking intervention studies to assess whether these metabolites can reduce the occurrence or progression of prostate cancer.