25th Annual American Institute for Cancer Research Conference

I just finished the first day of the AICR’s annual cancer conference. This is a unique conference because it brings together medical science and nutritional science with a focus on preventing cancer.

Prevention is an incredibly important issue for the 12.5 million cancer survivors in the United States because food, exercise, and mental outlook are the only cancer risk factors that are directly within the cancer survivor’s control.

As a 14-year prostate cancer survivor, and possibly moving into my recurrence period, I have been interested in how to use these elements in my personal cancer battle plan.

To set the stage for my blogs posts from the conference, I’ll share a bit of my cancer history since my diagnosis and treatment in 2003. My surgeon wanted me to lose weight prior to my prostate cancer surgery, so I went on the “cabbage soup” diet and lost 10 pounds, down from 165 (I’m 5′ 10″). Following my surgery, I dropped my weight a bit more to a range of 143-145 pounds, which is close to ideal for my height and build, and was how much I weighted when I graduated from college. This weight was great for my cycling career and I won the California state championship on the track in my age group in 2007. Sweet!

My eating habits were pretty good over the first 7 years following treatment and my weight stayed in a range of 143 -145. That all came to an end, however, when I vacationed in England in the summer of 2010. I was introduced to the ‘full English breakfast’ and somehow that changed my psychological outlook on food and my weight rose to 155, where is been since then.

Why am I telling this story?

I’m sharing my story because this conference is reminding me that I, just like every cancer survivor, need to play my part in my treatment and survivorship plan and that I have personal control over some very powerful cancer defeating tools. And, that it’s easy to get off track!

So, here’s my story …

For seven years following my treatment I was very careful with my eating habits. I was just two pounds over my ideal weight and I was killing it in amateur cycling. Then my wife and I spent two weeks in England on vacation and something happened. Even thought we walked 140 miles during those two weeks, I began to eat a bit more and gained 5 pounds over our vacation.

By the time we were back in Los Angeles, I had changed course and brought some of my previous bad food habits back into my routine. The result was a  10 lb. weight gain – and the associated gain in body fat – that I am still carrying around almost four years later.

As a cancer survivor, I know that maintaining an ideal body weight and keeping off as much body fat as possible is one of the best things I can do to prevent prostate cancer recurrence or a secondary cancer. But I haven’t been able to lose those extra pounds.

I guess the message here is that behavior modification is hard and its easy to fall off the wagon. That said, I’m pretty certain this conference is going to help me get back into my routine and I hope that what I learn will help you on your journey.

Stay Tuned for More From the 25th AICR Conference

More than 450 cancer scientists attended this year’s conference.  They are working hard at developing novel methods for beating and preventing cancer.

Join our email list or bookmark the page for my posts from the conference.

See you along the journey,


CJF Founder Robert Warren Hess with cancer scientist

Exercise helps prevent cancer!