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2023/24 Taught Postgraduate Module Catalogue

FOOD5340M Food and Cancer

10 creditsClass Size: 100

Module manager: Dr James Thorne

Taught: Semester 1 (Sep to Jan) View Timetable

Year running 2023/24

Pre-requisite qualifications

Undergraduate degree with component of biological sciences

This module is mutually exclusive with

FOOD3340Food and Cancer

This module is approved as an Elective

Module summary

If you have an interest in the link between Food and Cancer then this is an essential module. This module will explore the molecular and cell biology of cancer and the link between foods/dietary patterns and cancer. You will learn what cancer is and what the hallmarks of cancer are and explore the evidence behind cancer prevention recommendations. You will also learn how some dietary derived compounds are being used as bioactive nutraceuticals to prevent or ameliorate cancer. The module also covers cancer causing agents found in food, how they are classified and what measures are in place to limit exposure. We will also explore the role of the diet-immune interactions and obesity in cancer risk. At the societal level you will learn about why reports linking food and cancer may vary, the variables that lead to apparently contradicting evidence, and explore media reporting of scientific data.Please note this module considers and discusses issues around cancer diagnosis and outcomes. Cancer affects around half of the UK population directly in their lifetime. Some content may be upsetting for those who have had close or recent experiences with this disease.


The objectives of this module are to understand and critically evaluate the scientific literature that has provides understanding of:
1. cancer at the molecular, cellular, tissue, and population level,
2. how food influences cancer risk and outcomes,
3. know how relevant scientific evidence is collected, collated, assessed and interpreted
4. understand evidence that underpins current public health advice and clinical practice in relation to food and cancer, and where major evidence gaps lie.

You will learn about the biology of cancer and how these processes are disrupted and enhanced by food. There are several large regulatory, advisory and analytical agencies that classify compounds in relation to cancer risk and make public health recommendations; you will learn about how these agencies make these decisions, the impact it has on cancer rates and survival and place these data in the context of mass media reporting and in the wider scientific community. At the end of this module, you will be confident to interpret a range of data types that have informed public policy on cancer prevention, and competent to discuss the links between food and cancer in an informative manner with your peers and the general public.

Learning outcomes
1. Understand the latest developments on molecular and cell biology definitions of processes that lead to cancer, and how nutrition and dietary patterns influence these processes.
2. Learn about the roles and contributions of agencies, charities and/or government organisations in generating, analysing and reviewing evidence from various disciplines concerning the links between food and cancer
3. Be able to critically evaluate health claims and advice for the general population, stratified groups, and for people living with and beyond cancer.


Cancer risk and incidence around the world, by gender, by race; Tumour suppressor genes and oncogenes; Cancer Hallmarks; Sterols, O3FAs, and Nutraceuticals; the role of cohort studies, cancer charities, and government agencies; the evidence underpinning current cancer prevent guidance; how nutrients, food contaminants, dietary patterns, and the immune system, promote or protect from cancer. The roles of agencies, charities and government in shaping and delivering nutrition advice for cancer prevention and for cancer patients. How scientific evidence making the links between food and cancer is collected, collated and reviewed.

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
In Course Assessment31.003.00
Private study hours79.00
Total Contact hours21.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)100.00

Private study

Revision of lectures and exam preparation

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Kahoot/Tophat style class MCQs at weeks 4 and 10. Instant feedback.
Opportunity to present/discuss relevant scientific literature in class in week 4 (student free choice of publication).
Discussion of 2 publications with Q&A on the student’s understanding.

Methods of assessment

Exam typeExam duration% of formal assessment
Online Time-Limited assessment2 hr 100.00
Total percentage (Assessment Exams)100.00

An open book essay (1000 words) from a choice of 3 titles. The students have 48 hours to complete the essay.

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 26/09/2023 15:45:16


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