National Foundation for cancer research Archives - NFCR

National Foundation for cancer research

Two of Our Favorite Healthy Holiday Cookie Recipes

During the holidays, it’s easy to let your healthy eating habits slide. Tasty treats are everywhere – especially cookies. And they’re nearly impossible to resist!  To help during this copious cookie time, we’ve hand-picked two of our favorite recipes that offer a healthier take on your favorite holiday treats. These recipes use wholesome ingredients so you can feel good about snacking.

Give Pick-Me-Up Cookie Balls and Good-for-You Gingerbread Cookies a try. You won’t be disappointed.

Pick-Me-Up Cookie Balls

(Adapted from Kale & Chocolate)


1 cup cashews
½ cup pecans
½ cup walnuts
¼ cup goji berries
2 Tbsp pure maple syrup
1 Tbsp coconut oil
½ tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 Tbsp cacao nibs (pulse at the end)
Pinch of sea salt


  1. Place the nuts in the food processor and process until the nuts are in pieces but not a powder.
  2. Add the goji berries, coconut oil, maple syrup, cinnamon, vanilla and sea salt. (Reserve cacao nibs)
  3. Combine all ingredients and process until a dough-like consistency begins to form, but there are still little chunks of nuts and goji berries remaining.
  4. Add the cacao nibs and pulse a few times to incorporate them into the dough.
  5. To make the balls: use a small scooper ( about 1 ½ inches) or roll 1 Tbsp at a time in your hands. Because the mixture is mostly nuts, it will feel oily if you roll the balls by hand. Make sure to pack the dough tightly against the scooper or in your hands before placing on a plate or tray.
  6. Put in the freezer for 30 minutes to set. Store in refrigerator up to 5 days or freezer for 2 months.

Good-for-you Gingerbread Cookies

(Adapted from Pheebs Foods)


5 cups almond meal
1/2 tsp baking powder
Pinch of Salt
4 tsp ground ginger
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
2 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
2/3 cup melted coconut oil
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
4 Tbsp blackstrap molasses


  1. Preheat your oven to 300°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Place all dry ingredients in a bowl and mix well until the spices are evenly distributed.
  3. Whisk all wet ingredients in another bowl, adding the oil last to ensure it doesn’t harden.
  4. Pour wet mix into dry and mix well with a spoon until a dough forms – it will be a lot stickier then normal dough and a bit more fragile
  5. Turn dough out onto a well-floured board (using a small amount of white flour makes kneading easier).
  6. Form dough into a well-mixed ball. Cover in plastic wrap and place in the fridge for 15 minutes.
  7. Once chilled, roll out dough to approximately 1/2 cm thick and use a cookie cutter to cut out your gingerbread men.
  8. Place onto baking tray and bake for 15-20 minutes, longer depending on how crunchy or soft you like your cookies.
  9. Allow to cool fully before decorating.

For more healthy holiday ideas, read 6 Tips for Staying Healthy During the Holidays


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The Full Story of Dr. Albert Szent-Györgyi

Learn About the Vitamin-C Studying, Nobel-Prize Winning Co-Founder of NFCR

The Europe Years

Born in Budapest, Hungary on September 16, 1893, Albert Szent-Györgyi’s early life was filled with studying and interrupted by war. Szent-Györgyi was a medical student at the University of Budapest in 1911 and, during his studies, left to fight in World War I.  He was awarded the Silver Medal for Valour and was discharged after being wounded in action. He returned to medical school and graduated in 1917 as a doctor of medicine.

Albert von Szent-Gyorgyi Google Doodle


On September 16, 2011, which would have been Albert Szent-Gyorgyi’s 118th Birthday, Google featured his accomplishments with a Google Doodle.

He studied, worked and taught in labs in Prague, Berlin, Leiden, Hamburg and Cambridge in the 1920s and 1930s. Dr. Szent-Györgyi’s early research was focused on the chemistry of cell respiration.

Dr. Szent-Györgyi was a pioneer and, like many explorers, he challenged the conventional thinking of the day to pursue his novel and promising ideas. He won the Nobel Prize for his study of vitamin C and cell respiration in 1937.

Coming to America

Dr. Szent-Györgyi was a Visiting Professor at Harvard University in 1936 and, earlier, conducted research at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, but he spent the years during World War II in Europe. As World War II approached and fascists gained control of the Hungarian government, Dr. Szent-Györgyi helped Jewish friends flee the country. It is alleged Adolf Hitler personally ordered Dr. Szent-Györgyi’s arrest and, for part of the war, he was hiding from the Gestapo.

Dr. Albert Szent-Györgyi in the labAfter the war ended, he returned to University of Budapest to establish a laboratory and was elected to the Hungarian parliament. However, his opposition to the communist influence in Budapest led to his emigration to the United States in 1947 where he founded the Institute for Muscle Research at Woods Hole Marine Laboratory in Massachusetts.

Cancer Research and Accolades

1971 Szent-Gyorgyi - Salisbury letter

Text of a letter from Dr. Albert Szent-Györgyi to Frank Salisbury, after Salisbury made a donation to Dr. Szent-Györgyis research before they partnered on NFCR.

In the late 1950s, Dr. Szent-Györgyi developed a research interest in the biochemistry of cancer. And after meeting Franklin Salisbury, in 1973, they co-founded the National Foundation for Cancer Research (NFCR). Since then, NFCR has provided more than $340 million in support of cancer research and prevention education programs.

Dr. Szent-Györgyi was a member of many scientific societies in different countries and received many honors, in addition to the Nobel Prize, including the Cameron Prize of Edinburgh University in 1946 and the Lasker Award in 1954.  He wrote ten books, including On Oxidation, Fermentation, Vitamins, Health and Disease (1939), Chemistry of Muscular Contraction (1947), Chemical Physiology of Contraction in Body and Heart Muscle (1953) and Bioenergetics (1957).

Dr. Szent-Györgyi passed away on October 22, 1986 of kidney failure at his home in Massachusetts. Through NFCR, his work continues to help individuals throughout the world.

Franklin Salisbury and Dr. Albert von Szent-Györgyi in 1982

Franklin Salisbury and Dr. Albert Szent-Györgyi in 1982

The Albert Szent-Györgyi Prize

The Albert Szent-Györgyi PrizeNFCR is committed to upholding Dr. Szent-Györgyi’s vision of curing cancer through innovation and collaboration. As part of this commitment, NFCR has established this prize to honor scientists who have made extraordinary progress in cancer research and to focus attention on the essential role of basic research in finding the still elusive answers to the mysteries of cancer.

The Szent-Györgyi Prize serves to stimulate the quest for continued investment in the pioneering research that will produce scientific breakthroughs and lead to a deeper understanding of the scientific concepts behind the genetics and molecular makeup of cancer. By calling attention annually to achievements in this area, it is our desire to heighten awareness of the kind of research and discovery that must be accomplished
before we can hope to produce cancer cures.

Related Articles

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6 Tips for Staying Healthy During the Holidays

The holiday season is a time to celebrate with friends and family. Unfortunately, it can also be a time for overindulging, weight gain and even illness. So when you see the piled-up desserts or sugar-heavy side dishes, remember that research links certain cancers – including breast, prostate, colorectal, esophageal, endometrial, kidney and pancreatic – to obesity.

But don’t fret! There are some straightforward ways to enjoy festive food while putting your health first. Follow these simple tips for eating and living healthy this holiday season:

1. Swap it out

Creating healthier versions of your holiday favorites is easy – just swap out a few ingredients for more healthy ones.  For instance,

  • Replace white flour with finely-ground soft white wheat flour, almond flour or coconut flour.
  • Replace oil with unsweetened applesauce.
  • Replace refined sugar with maple syrup, agave nectar, honey or coconut sugar.

[Try our recipe for Superfood Cranberry Sauce that uses a smart swap so it’s not loaded with white sugar]

2. Indulge with healthier desserts

strawberriesSweets and treats don’t have to be completely off-limits.  You can choose desserts made with healthy, cancer-fighting ingredients such as:

[Did you know pumpkin has cancer-fighting power? To learn more, click here]

3. Go a little nuts

nutsSnack on a handful nuts before you go to a holiday party.  When you arrive to a holiday event with a full stomach, you will less likely overeat or over-indulge in sweets, alcohol, and other unhealthy foods.

Choose from almonds, walnuts, pecans, brazil nuts or pistachio- they all have great cancer-fighting power.

4. Consume alcohol in moderation

Although moderate alcohol use has possible health benefits, it’s also not risk-free.  Not only can alcohol impair your judgment, but excessive use can cause liver damage, heart problems, and even cancer.  To reduce your lifetime risk of cancer, men should not consume more than 2 drinks per day and women should not consume more than 3 drinks per week.

5. Keep moving

running Finding time to exercise – especially during the holidays – is no easy feat.  Go for a quick run or create opportunities to walk for at least 10 minutes at a time. When you have the chance to walk up and down stairs, do it – even offer to get someone else’s food or drink for them (cordiality points are a bonus)! Jumping rope is another quick way to get in an intense cardio workout in just a few minutes – plus, it can be done just about anywhere.  Regardless of how you do it, try not to stop moving around the holidays – exercise helps relieve holiday stress, weight gain and reduces cancer-related risks.

6. Stay germ-free

Colds and the flu run rampant this time of year.  Washing your hands regularly and urging others to do the same will help prevent illness.  Use warm soap and water whenever possible.  Get your flu shot if you haven’t already – especially if you have or have had cancer.

[Have you read What You Should Know About the 2016-2017 Flu Season?]


From all of us at NFCR, we wish you a safe, happy, wonderful holiday season!


Superfood Cranberry Sauce
(Adapted from Kale & Chocolate)
*Serves 8 


  • 3 cups cranberries, washed
  • 1 ½ cups water
  • 3 tablespoons maple syrup or coconut sugar
  • Juice of half an orange (about 1 ounce)
  • 2 tablespoons chia seeds
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • Optional: grate in fresh ginger and/or add up to one teaspoon cinnamon


  1. In a medium pot bring water, sweetener and cranberries to a boil.
  2. Turn down to a simmer and cook for about 15-20 minutes or until the cranberries split open and most of the water has reduced.
  3. Remove from the heat. Squeeze the fresh juice of half of an orange into the mixture.
  4. Mix in the optional spices if using. Add the chia seeds, orange zest, and pinch of salt and mix. Allow the sauce to cool for about 20 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes.
  5. The mixture will thicken as it cools. Serve at room temperature or chilled.
  6. Stays fresh in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
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7 Facts You Need to Know About Lung Cancer

With lung cancer continuing to affect the lives of so many people, it’s important to understand the disease and what we can do to improve our chances of beating it.


  • In the United States, an estimated 222,500 people will be diagnosed with lung cancer this year.
  • Lung cancer is the second most common cancer in both men and women.
  • More people die of lung cancer than of colon, breast and prostate cancers combined, as it claims nearly 160,000 lives every year.

Here’s a list of seven facts you need to know about lung cancer. (And make sure you read about related work by NFCR-funded scientists Dr. Daniel Haber and Dr. Alice Shaw)

1. Targeted therapies are showing great promise in treating lung cancer.

If you’ve been diagnosed with lung cancer, talk to your doctor about comprehensive genomic tumor testing. It is best to have this discussion before the initial biopsy, but it is never too late to discuss this with your doctor.

2. CT screenings can save lives.

Get screened using a low-dose CT scan- it’s the only proven effective way to screen for lung cancer.  X-rays do not detect lung cancer at it’s earliest of stages.

3. Smoking is the #1 risk factor….

Cigarette smoking is the #1 risk factor for lung cancer.  Smoking cigars, pipes and hooka also increases your risk.  If you are a current or former smoker, your risk of developing lung may be up to 25 times higher than someone who never smoked. Quitting reduces your risk, even if you’ve smoked for years.

In addition to causing cancer, smoking damages nearly every organ and organ system in your body.  Consider taking part in the Great American Smokeout on Thursday, November 16, 2017.  Talk to your doctor about strategies or stop-smoking aids that can help you quit.

4. …But, be aware, nonsmokers can get lung cancer too.

Roughly 10 to 15 percent of lung cancer cases occur in non-smokers.  Risk factors include:  exposure to radon gas, secondhand smoke, carcinogens like asbestos or diesel exhaust, air pollution and even gene mutations.

5. There are identifiable warning signs that can lead to early diagnosis.

Only 16% of people with lung cancer will be diagnosed when at the earliest stage, when the disease is most treatable.  If you are experiencing a chronic cough, coughing up blood, hoarseness, wheezing, frequent shortness of breath, chest pain, bone pain, or unexplained weight loss, talk to your doctor right away.

Also talk to your doctor if you have a family history of lung cancer – especially a parent or sibling.

6. There are different types of lung cancer. 

Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer (NSCLC) is the most common type of lung cancer, making up 80-85% of all cases.   Adenocarcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, large cell carcinoma and large cell neuroendocrine tumors are considered to be part of this group.

Small Cell Lung Cancer (SCLC) makes up 15-20% of all lung cancer cases.  This is a fast-growing cancer that spreads rapidly to other parts of the body.

Mesothelioma is a cancer of the lining of organs and can originate in the lungs or the abdomen, heart, and chest.  It is associated with exposure to asbestos.

Carcinoid tumors are a type of neuroendocrine tumor that can originate in the lungs or small intestine.

7. Cutting-Edge research helps us attack lung cancer head on.

NFCR-funded scientists are working around-the-clock on projects that can help us attack lung cancer. For example, in July, the FDA approved the drug Iressa® as front-line treatment for patients with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). The approval is extended to only those patients whose tumors contain specific mutations, which were originally identified by NFCR scientist Dr. Daniel Haber. 

Also, thanks to NFCR-funded research by Dr. Alice Shaw, a new and better way to treat resistant cancers is emerging. By successfully identifying drug combinations that halted the growth of resistant cells in tumor models, her research will hopefully lead to the development of effective therapeutic strategies for patients with ALK-positive NSCLC (mutations in the ALK gene), which could be clinically tested within one to two years.

Read about NFCR supporters that help fund Dr. Shaw’s research projects.

This blog was originally published on November17, 2016

Please show your support by spreading awareness AND by taking action against the disease.

Support cancer research.  Without funding, we are not able to sustain our efforts to find a cure for lung cancer and all cancers.

Supporters’ Story

The Hillsberg Lung Cancer Translational Research Grant

Each year, about 8,000 patients in the United States and 40,000 worldwide are diagnosed with ALK-positive non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). And while patients typically respond well initially to targeted ALK-inhibitor therapy, unfortunately, almost all patients eventually develop resistance to these drugs and their disease progresses.

The lack of clinical development to address this issue caught the attention of two NFCR donors, Sanford and Penny Hillsberg, who are long-time supporters of cancer research.  They were determined to take action to solve this particular drug resistance problem. They turned to NFCR and established a donor-initiated research fund in 2013 to support promising research in this critical field.  Their biggest hope is that their partnership with NFCR will help accelerate the clinical development of new and effective treatments for those who have already run out of options for their resistant lung cancer.

“We are so happy to be part of this important research effort,” said Mr. Hillsberg.  “We have worked with NFCR for years, and we know their excellent track record of supporting high-quality science. That’s why we were excited to participate in their donor-initiated research model, which matched our interest in translational lung cancer research with some of the best scientists in the world. We know these efforts will benefit patients fighting cancer, and we are fully committed to continuing our support of the excellent translational lung cancer projects at NFCR.”

If you, too, are interested in establishing a donor-initiated research fund at NFCR, call us at 1-800-321-CURE (2873).

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7 Ways to Reduce Your Breast Cancer Risk

The statistics are staggering. Today, the lifetime risk of getting breast cancer is about 1 in 8 for U.S. women and 1 in 1,000 for U.S. men. Although there is no sure way to prevent breast cancer, there are things we can do to significantly reduce our breast cancer risk. And there are steps we can take to find it early- when it’s most treatable- if it does occur. Follow these 7 steps to minimize your breast cancer risk.

1. Know your family history- even your father’s.

You may be at a higher risk of breast cancer if you have family members (parent, siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces and nephews) who have developed breast, ovarian or prostate cancer—especially at an early age.

Men and women with a strong family history of cancer may want to consider genetic counseling. Talk to your doctor or genetic counselor.


2. Watch your weight and give your body the nutrients it needs.

Maintaining a healthy weight throughout life and nourishing your body with fruits and vegetables can help lower risk of breast cancer. Studies have shown that women’s breast cancer risk is increased with obesity (being extremely overweight) especially after menopause. Obesity is probably a risk factor for male breast cancer as well.

3. Get moving!

Studies have conclusively shown that exercise can help cut down your breast cancer risk and even help breast cancer survivors live longer. So get out there and dance, run, swim, bike or walk. Exercise at a moderate intensity for at least 30 minutes every day.

 Other examples of moderate intensity exercise include:

  • Cleaning such as washing windows, vacuuming and mopping
  • Tennis doubles
  • Mowing lawn (power mower)


4. Avoid tobacco.

If you’re a smoker, quit! Smoking not only causes many different cancers including breast cancer, it can also damage nearly every organ in your body, including the lungs, heart, blood vessels, eyes, skin and bones.

Smoking causes a number of diseases and is linked to a higher risk of breast cancer in younger, premenopausal women.

Avoid second hand smoke whenever possible—it can be just as damaging.  Research also has shown that there may be link between very heavy second-hand smoke exposure and breast cancer risk in postmenopausal women.

5. Limit your alcohol intake.

Women should limit their alcohol intake to less than 3 drinks per week. New studies suggest that women who drink 3 to 6 drinks per week of any type of alcohol have a 15% increase in their risk of breast cancer.

Men can have high estrogen levels as a result of being heavy users of alcohol, which can limit the liver’s ability to regulate blood estrogen levels.


6. Avoid or limit Hormone Replacement Therapy.

Research has shown that menopausal women who take hormone replacement therapy (HRT) may be more likely to develop breast cancer. Talk to your doctor about the different options to manage the side effects of menopause, and the risks and benefits of each.


7. Get screened.

Monthly self-breast exams and annual mammograms for women don’t prevent cancer, but they can help find cancer at the earliest stages when it’s most treatable. Please consult your physician for a specific screening schedule tailored to your risk profile.
Cancer research breakthroughs are constantly introducing new tools in the prevention, early detection and treatment of cancer. Support cancer research. Without funding, we are not able to sustain our efforts to find a cure for breast cancer- and all cancers.



Give a gift to support life-saving cancer research!


(This blog was originally published on October 21, 2016 and updated on October 18, 2017)

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Taste the cancer-fighting power of pumpkin

Pumpkins are not just for Halloween.  They are a low calorie, nutritional powerhouse that can be used to make savory soups, sweet treats and nutritious meals.

1/2 cup of canned pumpkin or fresh cooked pumpkin provides a healthy amount of beta-carotene.  Eaten regularly, pumpkin may help reduce the risk of many types of cancer- including certain types of breast cancer- through its potent antioxidant capacity.

Simple Pumpkin Soup with Garlic Kale Sesame Topping

Adapted from The Minimalist Baker

(And don’t miss it – there’s another tasty pumpkin tip below the recipe!)




2 sugar pumpkins (yields approximately 2 1/4 cups pumpkin puree)
2 shallots, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups vegetable broth
1 cup light coconut milk
2 Tbsp maple syrup or agave nectar
1/4 tsp each sea salt, black pepper, cinnamon, nutmeg

GARLIC KALE SESAME TOPPING (optional- but it’s super delicious & also contains cancer-fighting foods like garlic & kale)

1 cup roughly chopped kale (to learn more about the cancer-fighting power of kale, click here)
1 large garlic clove, minced
2 Tbsp raw sesame seeds
1 Tbsp olive oil
pinch of salt


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  1. Using a sharp knife, cut off the tops of two sugar pumpkins and then halve them. Use a sharp spoon to scrape out all of the seeds and strings.
  1. Brush the flesh with oil and place face down on the baking sheet. Bake for 45-50 minutes or until a fork easily pierces the skin. Remove from the oven, let cool for 10 minutes, then peel away skin and set pumpkin aside.
  1. To a large saucepan over medium heat add 1 Tbsp olive oil, shallot and garlic. Cook for 2-3 minutes, or until slightly browned and translucent. Turn down heat if cooking too quickly.
  1. Add remaining ingredients, including the pumpkin, and bring to a simmer.
  1. Transfer soup mixture to a blender or use an emulsion blender to puree the soup. If using a blender, place a towel over the top of the lid before mixing to avoid any accidents.  Pour mixture back into pot.
  1. Continue cooking over medium-low heat for 5-10 minutes and taste and adjust seasonings as needed. Serve as is or with Kale-Sesame topping.


For the Kale-Sesame topping:

  1. In a small skillet over medium heat, dry toast sesame seeds for 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently until slightly golden brown. Be careful as they can burn quickly.  Remove from pan and set aside.
  1. To the still hot pan, add olive oil and garlic and sauté until golden brown – about 2 minutes. Add kale and toss, then add a pinch of salt and cover to steam.  Cook for another few minutes until kale is wilted and then add sesame seeds back in.  Toss to coat and set aside for topping soup. Recipe serves 3-4. Leftovers keep in the fridge for up to a few days, and in the freezer for up to a month or more.

pumpkin-seedsDon’t throw away the pumpkin seeds.  Diets rich in pumpkin seeds have been associated with lower levels of stomach, breast, lung, prostate and colon cancers.

Simply wash, dry and season them with a little olive oil, paprika and kosher salt.  Then roast them at 300 degrees for 30-40 minutes to make a delicious, crunchy snack.

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7 Facts You Need to Know About Brain Tumors

What is Brain Tumor?

  • Of the nearly 80,000 brain tumors diagnosed in the U.S. each year, approximately 32% are considered malignant – or cancerous.
  • Overall, the chance that a person will develop a malignant tumor of the brain or spinal cord in his or her lifetime is less than 1%.
  • Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) is the deadliest type of brain cancer, accounting for 45% of all malignant brain tumors.

Here’s a list of seven facts you need to know about brain tumors. And make sure you read about the work NFCR is doing to combat the deadliest brain cancer with GBM AGILE.

1. Primary brain cancer is rare.

primary malignant brain tumor is a rare type of cancer accounting for only about 1.4% of all new cancer cases in the U.S.  The most common brain tumors are known as secondary tumors, meaning they have metastasized, or spread, to the brain from other parts of the body such as the lungs, breasts, colon or prostate.

2. The cause of brain cancer is usually unknown.

Most people diagnosed with a primary brain tumor do not have any known risk factors. However, certain risk factors and genetic conditions have been shown to increase a person’s chances of developing one, including:

  • The risk of a brain tumor increases as you age.
  • People who have been exposed to ionizing radiation—such as radiation therapy used to treat cancer and radiation exposure caused by atomic bombs– have an increased risk of brain tumor.[i]
  • Rare genetic disorders like Von Hippel-Lindau disease, Li-Fraumeni syndrome, and Neurofibromatosis (NF1 and NF2) may raise the risk of developing certain types of brain tumors. Otherwise, there is little evidence that brain cancer runs in families.[ii]

3. Typically brain tumors don’t have obvious symptoms.

Headaches that get worse over time are a symptom of many ailments including brain tumors. Other symptoms may include personality changes, eye weakness, nausea or vomiting, difficulty speaking or comprehending and short-term memory loss.

Even benign or non-cancerous tumors can be serious and life threatening. If you experience these symptoms, speak with your doctor right away. 

4. Brain tumors can occur at any age.

Primary brain tumors—those that begin in the brain—can develop at any age, but they are most common in children and older adults. While brain tumors are one of the most common cancers occurring in children 0-14 years, the average age of diagnosis is 59 years. [iii]

5. Cell phones aren’t proven to cause brain cancer.

Although long-term studies are ongoing, to date there is no definitive evidence that cell phone use increases the risk of cancer. However, if you are concerned about the possible link between cellphones and cancer, consider limiting your use of cellphones — or use a speaker or hands-free device.

6. Survival rates vary.

There are different types of primary brain cancer and survival rates vary significantly depending on the type of cancer. Some types of brain cancer, such as meningioma, anaplastic ependymoma and oligodendroglioma, are highly treatable, while others are less responsive to treatment.

7. With GBM AGILE, the future looks promising.

Glioblastoma multiforme (also known as GBM) is the deadliest of all (primary) brain cancers and is widely regarded as incurable and universally fatal, killing 95% of patients within five years of diagnosis.

To combat this deadly disease, NFCR is part of a robust, international coalition working on innovative ways to defeat GBM utilizing a rigorous adaptive trial platform known as GBM AGILE (Adaptive Global Innovative Learning Environment).  Led by some of the best and brightest brain cancer researchers in the world, GBM AGILE is re-engineering the way clinical trials are conducted to develop more effective treatments faster than ever before.

To learn more about adaptive clinical trials and GBM AGILE, click here.

In addition to specific projects listed below, genomics research is helping us attack brain cancers – and all types of cancer. NFCR has distinguished itself from other organizations by emphasizing long-term, transformative research and working to move people toward cancer genomics.

Dr. Rakesh Jain is a leader in the field of tumor biology – specifically in anti-angiogenic therapy, which looks at thwarting certain types of blood vessel formation. Dr. Jain has been studying the role angiogenesis plays in glioblastoma multiforme (GBM), the deadliest form of brain cancer. Dr. Jain’s research is helping doctors better tailor the use of anti-angiogenic therapies by identifying the characteristics that cause resistance for GBM patients. Dr. Jain and his team have identified molecular resistance pathways that may direct the development of new drugs that target these pathways and could extend the benefits of anti-angiogenic therapies for patients.
Because GBM invades healthy tissues near the tumor, Dr. Jain’s current NFCR-funded research is focused on testing inhibitors that could prevent invasion. Vessel co-option is a process by which cancer cells migrate through and around nearby healthy tissue. Dr. Jain is identifying genes and pathways that facilitate vessel co-option in order to prevent invasion and improve GBM therapies.

The Director of NFCR’s Scientific Advisory Board, Dr. Web Cavenee, has partnered with NFCR-funded scientist Dr. Paul B. Fisher to discover a new pharmacological agent that could – with additional chemistry – lead to a new drug to prevent radiation-induced invasion of GBM cells. The researchers have tested their pharmacological agent in combination with radiation and have seen profound survival benefits in pre-clinical models.

Previously NFCR-funded scientist Dr. W.K. Alfred Yung’s research focused on drugs that target a gene called PI3K, which is a key factor in about 30% of GBM cases. His team collected glioma stem cells (GSCs) from GBM patients and developed a special panel of cell lines to investigate patterns of resistance to P13K inhibitors. The researchers are figuring out the molecular profile of these GSCs to identify potential targets for drug development. Results from the P13K studies have shown that the molecular profile of GSCs contain increased levels of Wee-1, which is a protein that controls cell division and growth. Following these results, the team then combined a P13K inhibitor with a Wee-1 inhibitor and found there was a greater inhibition of cell growth and the cancer cells were induced into cell suicide. Plus, when they tested the same inhibitors on complex GBM tumor models, they discovered similar benefits. These findings reveal molecular targets and designs for combination therapies that could lead to new treatments for GBM patients.


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6 Facts You Need to Know About Kidney Cancer

March is National Kidney Cancer Awareness Month and, as this disease continues affecting the lives of so many people every year, it’s important to understand it.


  • Kidney cancer is among the 10 most common cancers in both men and women.
  • In the United States, an estimated 63,990 people will be diagnosed with kidney cancer this year.
  • While the number of people diagnosed with kidney cancer has been slowly rising since the 1990’s, the death rate has been slowly declining.
  • The overall (all stages included) five-year survival rate for people with kidney cancer is 74%.[i]

Here’s a list of six facts you need to know about kidney cancer. And make sure you read about related work by NFCR-funded scientist Dr. Wayne Marasco.

1. Men are twice as likely to develop kidney cancer.

An estimated 40,610 men and 23,380 women in the U.S. are expected to be diagnosed with kidney cancer this year.[ii] That means nearly twice as many men will be diagnosed! Yet the exact reasons for this difference are unknown. Possible factors include higher levels of chemical exposure and higher smoking rates. Men are more likely to be smokers and are more likely to be exposed to cancer-causing chemicals at work.[iii]

2. Kidney cancer most often occurs in people over age 55.

The risk for developing kidney cancer increases with age and the average age of diagnosis is 64 years old. Although kidney cancer is very uncommon in people younger than age 45, there is a type of kidney cancer, known as Wilms tumors, that tends to affect children. About 5% of all cancers in children are Wilms tumors.[iv]

3. Smoking and other factors increase risk.

Smoking has been linked with as many as one third of all kidney cancer cases.[v] And if you are a current or former smoker, your risk of developing kidney cancer is twice as high as someone who never smoked. Quitting reduces your risk, even if you’ve smoked for years.

Other major risk factors include obesity, high blood pressure and exposure to chemicals like asbestos and cadmium. In addition, people who receive long-term dialysis to treat kidney failure have a higher risk of developing kidney cancer.

4. Pay close attention to your family history.

Your family history may predispose you to kidney cancer. If you have a first-degree relative (mother, father, brother, sister or child) who was diagnosed with kidney cancer, you are at increased risk of developing the disease. This risk is highest for brothers or sisters of those with the cancer.[vi]

Also, people born with certain inherited syndromes may have an increased risk of kidney cancer, including those who have von Hippel-Lindau disease, Birt-Hogg-Dube syndrome, tuberous sclerosis and familial papillary renal cell carcinoma.

5. There are warning signs, but not EARLY warning signs.

Like lung cancer, colorectal cancer and cervical cancer, kidney cancer rarely causes signs or symptoms in its early stages.

Possible warning signs or symptoms may include: blood in your urine (this may be painless and appear one day and not the next); back pain just below the ribs that doesn’t go away and was not caused by injury; weight loss; fatigue; or intermittent fever. If you notice any of these symptoms, see your doctor right away.

6. Cutting-edge research is helping us attack kidney cancer head on.

Battling Renal Cell Carcinoma with Mabs

For cancer, as well as HIV/AIDS and other infectious diseases, one possible treatment involves the use of human monoclonal antibodies (Mabs) – which are proteins that scientists develop to bind to only one substance. For cancer treatments, Mabs bind only to cancer cells and produce immunological responses against the cancer cells. There is great promise with Mabs because their tumor-fighting effects would be less harmful to normal cells than that of traditional cancer treatments.

In an effort to greatly expand the use of Mabs in the treatment of cancer, Dr. Wayne Marasco— a world-renowned antibody engineering expert who works on infectious diseases and cancer immunotherapies — and NFCR joined forces to create the NFCR Center for Therapeutic Antibody Engineering. At the Center, Dr. Marasco collaborates with accomplished global cancer investigators in a joint effort to uncover new Mabs using his laboratory’s huge human antibody library.

Most recently, his team at the NFCR Center developed a combination immunotherapy treatment that holds promise for treating metastatic kidney cancer more effectively. The immunotherapy they have engineered includes not only the CAIX antibody that detects and binds to CAIX growth-promoting proteins on cancerous kidney cells, but also unblocks T cells to enable more rigorous attacks against cancer. Moreover, this double treatment approach could be adapted to treat advanced colon, breast, brain and other difficult-to-treat solid cancers using different antibodies.


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Cancer-Curbing Cauliflower: Your Carb Replacement

Cauliflower is one of the most versatile vegetables in the cruciferous family and can be used to replace carbohydrates – anything from starchy potatoes to rice.

cauliflower diagram

Cauliflower’s impressive array of nutrients – including vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and other phytochemicals – help keep our immune system healthy and strong.

Studies have shown that eating three to five servings of cruciferous vegetables like cauliflower, broccoli and kale each week can significantly lower your risk of developing cancer.[1]

Cauliflower Fried Rice

(Adapted from Skinny Taste)


  • 1 medium head cauliflower, rinsed
  • 1 Tbsp sesame oil
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 large egg
  • pinch of salt
  • cooking spray
  • 1/2 small onion, diced fine
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas and carrots
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 5 scallions, diced, whites and greens separated
  • 3 Tbsp soy sauce, or more to taste


  1. Remove the core and let the cauliflower dry completely.
  2. Coarsely chop into florets, then place half of the cauliflower in a food processor and pulse until the cauliflower is small and has the texture of rice or couscous – don’t over process or it will get mushy. Set aside and repeat with the remaining cauliflower.
  3. Combine egg and egg whites in a small bowl and beat with a fork. Season with salt.
  4. Heat a large saute pan or wok over medium heat and spray with oil.
  5. Add the eggs and cook, turning a few times until set; set aside.
  6. Add the sesame oil and saute onions, scallion whites, peas and carrots and garlic about 3 to 4 minutes, or until soft. Raise the heat to medium-high.
  7. Add the cauliflower “rice” to the saute pan along with soy sauce. Mix, cover and cook approximately 5 to 6 minutes, stirring frequently, until the cauliflower is slightly crispy on the outside but tender on the inside.
  8. Add the egg then remove from heat and mix in scallion greens.




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Tasty Tomatoes: Anti-Cancer Attributes & A Healthy Recipe

While people debate the age-old question about whether tomatoes are a fruit or vegetable, here’s an undisputed fact: Tomatoes are a good source of vitamins A, C and E, and the antioxidant lycopene.

Studies show that lycopene may help prevent prostate, lung, and stomach cancers. The powerful antioxidant can also help reduce your risk of developing cardiovascular disease by reducing LDL (“bad”) cholesterol and lowering blood pressure. Plus, there’s some evidence that cancers of the pancreas, colon and rectum, esophagus, oral cavity, breast and cervix can be reduced with increased lycopene intake.


What Types of Tomato Products Should I Eat?

Lycopene is a lipid-soluble compound, which means that consuming it with fat (oil) increases its bioavailability. So you will obtain more lycopene from the fresh tomatoes in your salad when they are paired with a full fat dressing ins
tead of reduced fat dressing.

Additionally, our bodies extract the most benefit of the lycopene from processed tomato products, such as tomato paste, sauce and ketchup. So keep the tomato-y condiments on hand for a healthy boost!

Need a tomato-heavy recipe suggestion? Try the delicious fish recipe below. Bon appétit!

Sear-Roasted Halibut with Tomato & Capers 

Adapted from Fine Cooking


  • 1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
  • 2 Tbsp capers, rinsed and chopped
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp chopped fresh oregano
  • 1 1/2  tsp balsamic vinegar
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 lb thick skinless halibut fillet (or other mild white fish, like cod), cut into 4 even pieces
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 medium cloves garlic, thinly sliced


  1. Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 450°F.
  2. In a medium bowl, mix the tomatoes, capers, oregano, vinegar, 1/2 tsp. salt and 1/4 tsp. pepper.
  3. Season the fish with 3/4 tsp. salt and 1/4 tsp. pepper and dredge it in the flour, shaking off the excess. Heat the oil in a 12-inch (preferably nonstick) ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering hot. Add the fish, evenly spaced, and cook without touching until it browns and releases easily from the pan (check by gently lifting one of the corners), about 3 minutes. Flip the fish, sprinkle the garlic around it, and cook until the garlic just starts to brown on some edges, about 30 seconds.
  4. Pour the tomato mixture around the fish and transfer the skillet to the oven. Roast until the fish is just firm to the touch and opaque when you pry open a thicker piece with a paring knife, 3 to 6 minutes.
  5. Let the fish rest for a couple of minutes and then serve with the tomato mixture spooned over it.

Related NFCR Research

NFCR-funded researcher Dr. Helmut Sies, a world-renowned scientist in the field of cancer prevention, discovered that lycopene has the highest antioxidant capacity of carotenoids (colorful pigments in fruits and vegetables).

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