November 1, 2013
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Did you know?

  • We envision a world free from cancer.

    Our research scientists and their teams collaborate with colleagues around the world to conduct cutting-edge research using large data-sets to:
    • understand the causes of cancer
    • find ways to prevent it or detect it early
    • improve outcomes for cancer survivors 
  • Our mission began more than 40 years ago.

    Established in 1974 as the Northern California Cancer Program, the organization later became known as the Northern California Cancer Center. The name was changed again in 2010 when it became the Cancer Prevention Institute of California (CPIC), which reflects the organization's broader scope and demonstrates its large scale impact of preventing cancer before it starts.
  • We are an independent research institute and a valued partner to many.

    Through its collaborative approach, CPIC also serves as an asset to the nation’s leading cancer fighting organizations, including the National Cancer Institute, and to scientists worldwide, educators, patients, and clinicians, and is affiliated with the Stanford Cancer Institute.
  • We work hard to understand who gets cancer and why.

    Our scientists are frequent contributors to major scientific journals, and often present their findings at important cancer-related conferences. CPIC research has been covered by numerous local, national and international media outlets, such as The New York Times and The Washington Post.
  • Every case of cancer counts…and is counted.

    CPIC operates the Greater Bay Area Cancer Registry as part of the National Cancer Institute's Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results program and the California Cancer Registry. As required by law, the registry gathers data from hospitals and doctors on all cancers diagnosed and treated in nine Bay Area counties. This information is used to produce cancer statistics and as a platform for research to understand cancer occurrences and survival. Our registry regularly earns Gold Standard Certification by the North American Association of Central Cancer Registries.
  • Our educational efforts reach people of all ethnicities and backgrounds.

    Our Community Education team provides important information to cancer survivors, health professionals and others through conferences and publications on many cancer-related topics including employment, patient advocacy, care giving, specific cancers, and treatments.

  • Breast cancer rates decline when hormone therapy is stopped.

    CPIC was first to report on the alarmingly high and increasing rates of breast cancer in the Bay Area and Marin County in the 1990s. In subsequent studies, CPIC found that when women stopped taking hormone replacement therapy, breast cancer rates declined immediately and dramatically. This showed that hormone therapy was a major contributor to the high rates previously reported and identified one clear path to breast cancer prevention.
  • Our work to associate tanning beds and melanoma prompted legislation.

    CPIC described increased occurrence of melanoma in young women in California, particularly in high socioeconomic areas, implicating use of tanning beds as one cause. This finding led to passage of the first statewide legislation to ban minors from using tanning beds, which should ultimately reduce occurrences of deadly melanoma in young persons.
  • Physical activity lowers your risk of Breast Cancer

    CPIC found that risk of breast cancer was lower for women engaging in more physical activity, such as walking and biking, doing household chores and yard work, and being active on the job. This shows a simple and practical way women can help prevent breast cancer from occurring.
  • Second-hand smoke increases the risk of lung and breast cancer.

    CPIC studies have shown that women exposed to second-hand tobacco smoke have a higher risk of lung cancer even if they don't smoke, and that exposure to household smoke increases their risk of breast cancer over and above the risk they incur from smoking themselves. These findings have been important in leading to anti-smoking legislation.
  • Vitamin D may reduce the risk of prostate cancer.

    CPIC assessed whether sun exposure, which is the main source of vitamin D, is related to prostate cancer risk. Using the difference in skin color measured on the forehead and upper underarm as an indicator of sun exposure, the study found that prostate cancer risk was reduced by 50% in men with a high sun exposure index, with an even higher reduction in risk noted in men with certain alterations in the vitamin D receptor gene.
  • Survival outcomes differ among Asian women of different ethnic backgrounds.

    CPIC was the first to show that breast cancer survival is not uniform across women of different Asian ethnicities, irrespective of how advanced the cancer was when diagnosed. In California, Korean, South Asian and Vietnamese women had the poorest survival after breast cancer, pointing to the need in these communities for better screening and/or breast cancer treatment.
  • Melanoma is on the rise throughout California.

    CPIC demonstrated that the rates of both early and more advanced melanomas were rising in all populations in California. This disturbing finding signals a true and alarming epidemic of this deadly cancer, and it has been cited over 245 times in the medical literature since 2009 because it identifies a major public health problem.
  • Survival disparities occur across many cancer types.

    CPIC showed that survival after follicular lymphoma, a common form of this cancer, is lower in poorer communities than in more affluent communities. This demonstrates population disparities in cancer treatment and shows a need in poorer communities for more access to skilled lymphoma care, including access to new successful drug treatments.
  • Our nail salon studies have widespread positive impact.

    CPIC found that California nail salons had higher than expected levels of carcinogens and other banned substances in the air, identifying the need for better standards and the importance of clarifying whether such exposures lead to cancer and other undesirable health outcomes.
  • Tailored approaches to healthcare are needed to address cultural differences.

    CPIC used two approaches to learn how best to help Vietnamese communities in California receive lifesaving colorectal cancer screening: one approach involved lay health workers directly educating the community on the importance of screening, and the other involved advertising about colorectal cancer screening. CPIC found that the use of lay health workers worked best to improve the screening rate, proving that organized community involvement improves colorectal screening practices among Vietnamese-Americans in California.
  • Lung cancer afflicts nonsmoking women more than men.

    CPIC was the first to show definitively that among nonsmokers, women were more likely than men to have lung cancer. Until this paper, there were no hard data about the incidence of lung cancer in nonsmokers. This study has been cited extensively as motivation for other research to understand the reasons why.
  • Genetic screening is especially important for African American and Hispanic women.

    CPIC was the first to study the level of BRCA1 mutations (genetic changes responsible for increased risk of breast cancer) in nonwhite women. This work found that young African American and Hispanic women with breast cancer had a particularly high prevalence of BRCA1 mutations, and signaled the importance to these communities and their doctors of screening for this mutation when indicated.

High Fruit/Vegetable Diet Reduces Breast Cancer Risk

November 2013

Dear Get In Front Supporter,

As we prepare our holiday meals, we can consult CPIC's recent findings below, suggesting the importance of eating as many fruits and vegetables as possible. (These fruit- and vegetable-based meal suggestions may be helpful as you plan your menus.) Also in the spirit of the season, we extend our gratitude and thanks to all who attended the fabulous Get In Front Performance - a benefit for CPIC - earlier this week! Even if you did not attend, it's not too late to join us in supporting cancer prevention at CPIC before the year ends. Check out our other stories below to learn more about our newest studies and a widely distributed Bay Area newspaper feature on CPIC scientists.

CPIC Study Finds Diet High in Fruits and Vegetables May Reduce Breast Cancer Risk

A new study from CPIC and collaborators at Columbia University has found that women whose diets are primarily plant-based, consisting mostly of fruits and vegetables, have significantly lower risk of developing breast cancer, while women who consume a diet high in wine, salad and low-fat dressing may have increased risk. The researchers worked with information obtained from thousands of women and found that those who reported consuming the highest amounts of fruits and vegetables were 35 percent less likely to develop estrogen receptor-negative (ER-) breast cancer than those who reported eating the fewest fruits and vegetables. “The finding that women who are at high risk for ER- breast cancer can reduce their risk by consuming a diet rich in fruits and vegetables is very encouraging. It provides a simple and important preventative measure for women to take, and one likely to reduce the risk of other major chronic diseases as well,” said CPIC Research Scientist and study author Pamela Horn-Ross, Ph.D.

See what else Dr. Horn-Ross says about a diet that can help women reduce their breast cancer risk

Major San Francisco Bay Area Newspaper Group Profiles Four CPIC Scientists

On October 20th, Bay Area News Group (BANG) published a story on researchers who specialize in studying breast cancer. The piece focuses individually on CPIC Senior Research Scientists Esther John, Ph.D., and Peggy Reynolds, Ph.D., as well as CPIC Research Scientists Christina Clarke, Ph.D., and Scarlett Gomez, Ph.D., and ran in all BANG papers, which include the San Jose Mercury News, Contra Costa Times, Oakland Tribune, Marin Independent Journal and others. In the feature, the scientists discuss a range of topics, including their personal connections to breast cancer and what inspires them, the focus of their work, some of the challenges they face in studying breast cancer, and their visions for the future of breast cancer research.

Learn more about Drs. John, Reynolds, Clarke and Gomez

This Holiday Season, Partner with CPIC to Prevent Cancers

Many people choose to support charitable causes during the holiday season. The practice has been gaining in popularity, with newly established campaigns such as #GivingTuesday, which promotes donating charitably on the Tuesday following Black Friday and Cyber Monday. As you choose your charities this season, we encourage you to consider the impact of CPIC's unique cancer prevention work. Too many have suffered the burden of cancer, which is why CPIC scientists work every day to protect our generation and generations to come. Their large-scale efforts involve tracking cancer patterns across entire populations to understand the genetic, environmental, racial/ethnic, socio-economic, and lifestyle factors related to why cancers occur. This work aids multiple levels of prevention efforts, and has even influenced public policies across the nation to protect people from cancers. CPIC Board Trustee Alan Polish, who has been personally affected by cancer, reflects, "If we only knew 20 years ago what CPIC has discovered about cancer prevention - such as what raises risk of melanoma, breast and lung cancers - there could have been a whole lot less suffering in this world.

Partner with us to prevent cancers for this generation and those to come

The Pipeline: Can Smartphones and Tablets Help us Better Understand Cancers?

The explosion of smartphone and tablet technology in our culture has created an unprecedented level of access to information and data, in real time. This may create particular efficiencies within research to better understand risk of disease, as currently, scientists in this field (epidemiologists) often have to rely upon study participants’ general recollection of vast amounts of past experiences. This results in data that are not as precise as they could be if collected in real time. CPIC Research Scientist Scarlett Lin Gomez, Ph.D., and her team are collaborating on a new Stanford-funded pilot study that is exploring the potential of new technologies, such as smartphones and tablets, in capturing immediate answers to study-related questions. Dr. Gomez and her collaborators will test the feasibility and acceptability of using smartphones and tablets specifically for online collection of lifestyle and behavior data from study participants repeatedly and as close to real-time as is possible. This work has the potential to powerfully improve the quality and reliability of data collected for cancer prevention research.

Learn about our other recently funded projects

Thank You, Get In Front Performance 2013 Committee, Producers, Dancers and Attendees!

On November 12th at San Francisco's Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, 50 world-class dancers came together to perform and share their exquisite talents, all to benefit cancer prevention at CPIC. Dedicating the performance, in particular, to two friends of the Bay Area dance community who recently lost their battles with cancer, the dancers delighted the crowd in attendance with their artistry. "We believe that by supporting CPIC, we are promoting life: being well and staying well," stated event Co-Founders Garen Scribner, James Sofranko, and Margaret Karl, in the event's program. "To us, presenting world-class dance is the perfect physical representation of that ethos." CPIC CEO Sally Glaser, Ph.D., remarked, "I am in awe of the tremendous vision and energy Garen, James and Margaret have put into producing this evening. We are so grateful for their commitment to supporting CPIC in preventing cancer and reducing its burden by sharing their talents in such a meaningful way." Stay tuned for photos and more information about the success of the evening's events in next month's issue of In Front.

Missed the performance this year? You can still show your support of Get In Front with a gift to CPIC today.