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It is estimated that around one-third of cancers in Australia are preventable.

Cancer Council Beat Cancer Project funded researcher, Professor Caroline Miller, from SAHMRI, aims to reduce the preventable burden of cancer by empowering people to make healthy choices.

Professor Miller has worked in tobacco control for 25 years and was one of a select group of research scientists advising the Australian Government on world-leading tobacco plain packaging laws. Over the past 30 years, legislation, public health campaigns and services such as Quitline have helped people quit smoking and reduced uptake rates.

Thanks to funding support from the South Australian community, Professor Miller is applying her research expertise in tobacco control to diet and obesity – another leading cause of cancer.

“Dietary risk and obesity are on the cusp of overtaking tobacco use as Australia’s leading preventable burden of disease, and international reports have warned that obesity is a leading preventable cause of cancer,” Professor Miller says.

“Reversing the trends in Australians’ weight is an enormous challenge. Our individual behaviours are important, but we also know the environment that we live and work in has enormous influence and can make it very difficult for people to make healthy choices.”

Reducing sugary drink consumption is a key area of focus for Professor Miller by investigating the impact of labelling, advertising, and taxation on consumers.

This research has contributed to the review of Australia and New Zealand’s Health Star Rating, which led to improvements to the system for sugary drink labels. Professor Miller’s team has also shared their research with Food Standards Australia and New Zealand who are in the process of introducing ‘added sugar’ labelling requirements.

Professor Miller says that with the support of the South Australian community and funding from the Beat Cancer Project, she has been able to build a career as a behavioural scientist committed to cancer prevention and is training the next generation of researchers.

“Reducing the amount of ultra-processed food and sugary drinks in Australians’ diets will make an important contribution to prevention of future cancers,” Professor Miller says.

“I’d like to thank the supporters of Cancer Council SA. Your contribution helps advance education and awareness campaigns and policy changes that create better health outcomes for the South Australian community.”

Learn more about diet and cancer on our website. 

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