Jenifer Frank photo
Melinda Irwin in her office at Yale (Jenifer Frank photo)

Yale cancer scientist Melinda Irwin says that the connection between obesity and cancer are so strong—as are recent findings about the effectiveness of exercise and diet in treating cancer—that pharmaceutical companies should be required to include these two lifestyle components in drug trials.

A mandate is needed, Irwin said, because the pharmaceutical industry, which funds most large-scale drug trials, “has no incentive to fund lifestyle behavioral interventions. Why would they? There’s no pill to take.”

Irwin studies the effects of weight loss and exercise on breast cancer survivors. Her comments echo those by the American Society of Clinical Oncology, which has issued a new position paper calling obesity “a major unrecognized risk factor for cancer.’’

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