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Professor JoEllen Welsh: Connecting Cancer Prevention and Nutrition

May 18, 2009

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JoEllen Welsh, renowned breast cancer expert, UAlbany Cancer Research Center

During the first Hogarty Family Foundation lecture, Welsh hopes to help people understand how cancer develops. She will also discuss the impact of diets on the body, given the vast array of supplements, as well as processed and organic foods. (Photo Mark Schmidt)

Cancer prevention is a big buzzword for UAlbany Cancer Researcher JoEllen Welsh. A prominent researcher on the role of Vitamin D in breast cancer prevention, Welsh knows the importance of how nutrition can protect normal cells before they become cancerous.

Welsh, an Empire Innovations Professor at the Cancer Research Center (CRC), will be the featured speaker at the inaugural Hogarty Family Foundation Lecture at 7:30 p.m. May 21. She will discuss the impact of diet and nutrition on the development of cancer. With the lecture series, which is free and open to the public, the CRC is hoping to inform people on the most updated information on cancer prevention, treatment and research.

Welsh hopes the lecture can help people understand how cancer develops. She will also discuss the impact of diets on the body, given the vast array of supplements, as well as processed and organic foods.

Prevention strategies can be tricky, Welsh admits, and there are a lot of unanswered questions remaining about the relationship between diet and cancer development. So far, one of the most consistent observations has been the link between eating lots of fruits and vegetables, particularly those with antioxidants, and reduced cancer risk.

"Scientists are now analyzing fruits and vegetables to isolate individual chemicals in them to confirm whether they can protect normal cells, and to identify their mechanisms of action," said Welsh. "They also need to examine how these protective chemicals are absorbed by the body and metabolized, and how much is optimal."

She encourages people to seek information from organizations like the American Institute for Cancer Research in Washington D.C., which devotes funding to education and basic research on diet, nutrition and cancer.

"I have a strong family history of breast and colon cancer, so it does hit home in that respect," said Welsh. "The toughest part about this disease is that cancer cells know how to adapt and resist most therapies over time. That's why prevention is so needed, because it puts you ahead of the game."

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