Risk Factor Monitoring & Methods Branch Areas of Research
Diet, in all its complexity, is considered one of the major risk factors for cancer and is therefore a primary area of research within the Risk Factor Monitoring & Methods Branch. We work collaboratively with a wide range of researchers to conduct an integrated program that serves NCI as well as the extramural community. Our work involves monitoring research, methodologic research, and guidance- and policy-related research.
Obesity Policy Research
Obesity is a risk factor for various types of cancer and for other chronic diseases. Obesity prevalence in the US has risen substantially in the last 50 years, particularly since the early 1980s. Experiences with tobacco control and other public health initiatives suggest that public policy may be a powerful tool to improve diet and physical activity behavior at the population level.
The Risk Factor Monitoring & Methods Branch supports various initiatives in obesity policy research, including promoting research on diet and physical activity that may inform policymaking and mesurement of the food and physical activity environments.
Current evidence convincingly indicates that physical activity reduces the risk of colon and breast cancer. Physical activity may also reduce risk of prostate cancer. Scientists are also evaluating potential relationships between physical activity and other cancers.
The Risk Factor Monitoring & Methods Branch supports the collection of physical activity data in existing and planned surveys. In doing so, we are attempting to develop more complete assessments of individuals' physical activity based on information derived from multiple contexts, including transportation, occupation, and recreation. We also conduct and support methodologic research to evaluate and improve physical activity assessment.
Ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun is known to be the leading cause of skin cancer, the most common type of cancer in the US. Some groups are more susceptible to the sun's damaging rays than are others, depending on their skin type and where they live. Consequently, it is important to monitor the population's sun exposure as well as their behaviors for avoiding it, especially among at-risk groups.
The Risk Factor Monitoring & Methods Branch monitors behaviors related to sun exposure by adding questions to existing surveys, such as the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) Cancer Control Supplement and the California Health Interview Survey (CHIS), National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (ADD HEALTH) and the Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS).
The Risk Factor Monitoring & Methods Branch monitors tobacco use through the use of surveys of the US household population, including the NCI-sponsored Tobacco Use Supplement to the Current Population Survey (TUS-CPS) and the Health Information National Trends Survey (HINTS). We are also involved in developing the tobacco-related questions that are periodically added to the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) Cancer Control Supplement. Information from these surveys allows us to monitor Americans' progress in reducing tobacco use, evaluate tobacco control programs, and conduct other tobacco-related research. We examine the data in terms of trends over time and patterns across various groups.
Last Modified: 11 Apr 2014