The NRI is pleased to welcome Stephen Hursting, Ph.D., M.P.H., to its faculty. Dr. Hursting, an expert in diet and cancer prevention, trained at UNC Chapel Hill and directed research programs for 20 years at the National Cancer Institute and University of Texas. He has returned to North Carolina as Professor at the UNC NRI and the Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center in Chapel Hill.
At the NRI, Dr. Hursting’s lab is investigating diet-gene interactions relevant to cancer prevention, particularly the molecular and hormonal mechanisms underlying energy balance-cancer associations. “Obesity increases risk of developing many kinds of cancer, and with nearly 40 percentof U.S. adults currently obese, understanding the biology behind obesity-cancer links is critical to developing ways to break those links,” says Dr. Hursting. This line of study is particularly significant since cancer is now the leading cause of death worldwide. The World Health Organization predicts that cancer cases will surge over the next 20 years unless we focus on prevention. Dr. Hursting says the good news is that most cancers are preventable and his research focuses on how what you eat (and also what you don’t eat) can have a big impact on your risk of developing cancer. “Our passion is finding new ways to prevent cancer, and we think healthy diet choices and physical activity are very important weapons in the war on cancer. Uncovering the molecular and metabolic mechanisms that link poor nutrition, obesity, or lack of exercise to cancer will allow us to develop more precise, personalized prevention strategies to greatly reduce the suffering and death due to cancer.”