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Nutrition and Cancer | The Inflammation Connection

by Professor James R. Hébert, MSPH, ScD | Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Arnold School of Public Health, University of South Carolina | Director, South Carolina Statewide Cancer Prevention and Control Programme.

Introduction by Dr Christiana Demetriou, Assist Prof of Epidemiology and Public Health, MPH Programme Coordinator, University of Nicosia Medical School.

The acute inflammatory response is necessary to maintain life – protecting against infectious diseases, enabling wounds to heal, and providing means to detect and deal with spontaneous mutations as they arise.  In a normal healthy individual the inflammatory and associated innate immune response happens seamlessly – being called into action in a “split second” and typically resolving the problem in less time than the ½ life of a white blood cell (i.e., <5 days).  By contrast, chronic inflammation, the result of the inability to turn off pro-inflammatory signals and turn on anti-inflammatory signals, can go on for weeks, months, years, even decades.  Chronic inflammation, both systemic and simmering tissue-specific, increases the risk of most chronic diseases, including most types of cancer. These, in turn, lead to disability and premature death – and inflammation can exert a profound influence on disease course after a cancer has been diagnosed.

Diet is the predominant modulator of the inflammatory response.  Specific dietary factors turn on and off the cytokine signaling that is essential to ensure competent inflammatory responses and maintaining good health.  In this talk, Dr Hébert will describe the history of inflammation and the role of specific dietary factors in regulating inflammatory and immune responses that control carcinogenic processes and those related to metastasis.  This will be framed in the context of the Dietary Inflammatory Index (DII®), which he invented in 2009 and has now been used in over 720 research studies and has been cited over 12,000 times according to Clarivate Web of Science®.


James R. Hébert is Health Sciences Distinguished Professor of Epidemiology and Founding Director of the South Carolina Statewide Cancer Prevention and Control Programme at the University of South Carolina, and Founder, President and Scientific Director of Connecting Health Innovations LLC (CHI).

Dr Hébert received his masters degree in Environmental Health from the University of Washington and his doctorate in Nutritional Epidemiology from Harvard University.  One of the most highly cited research scientists in the world, Dr Hébert is well known for his research into the role of diet in health and for developing the Dietary Inflammatory Index (DII®), which is revolutionizing research into chronic systemic inflammation as a cause of numerous chronic diseases ranging from diabetes to depression, cardiovascular disease, and cancers of many anatomic sites.

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