Healthy Eating Program Research Studies

If you are interested in learning more about upcoming studies on diet and exercise in cancer prevention and control, please call 858-822-6790 or 858-822-2895.

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Studies with open enrollment

Reach for Health – For breast cancer survivors who are overweight

Reach for Health is a 6 month randomized trial to investigate the degree to which metformin, a weight loss intervention, or both can reduce breast cancer mortality among overweight/obese, postmenopausal breast cancer survivors.  Eligible women must have been diagnosed within the last four years with Stage I, II, IIIA breast cancer, be overweight with BMI greater than 25, postmenopausal at the time of diagnosis, and want to increase physical activity and make dietary changes. Participants will be randomly assigned to one of four groups: (1) metformin only; (2) placebo only; (3) metformin plus lifestyle counseling; or (4) placebo plus lifestyle counseling.  The lifestyle counseling group will receive regular calls from a health coach (12 calls during 6 months) along with educational print materials. The medication only groups will receive the USDA guidelines for nutrition and physical activity. Participants will be blinded to the study medication. Please call the study coordinator at (858)822-3311 for more information. View a study flyer.

MENU (Methabolism, Exercise and Nutrition) — For healthy, overweight women

The MENU study examines the differences among three diets of differing composition on weight loss and cancer biomarkers. Eligible participants are:

  • Healthy, overweight women
  • Over 21 years of age
  • BMI (body mass index) higher than 30, less than 40
  • Willing and able to participate in clinic visits, group sessions, and telephone and Internet communications at specified intervals
  • Able to provide data through questionnaires and by telephone
  • Willing to allow blood collections
  • No known allergy to tree nuts
  • Able to be physically active

For more information on the MENU study please contact Elizabeth Quitana, MS, RD, at 858-822-6162 or

Completed Studies

All completed Studies

Activity After Breast, Colon, or Rectal Cancer Trial (AACT)

A pilot study to see if telephone counseling can increase physical activity levels in patients who have recently (within the past 12 months) finished treatment for breast cancer or cancer of the colon or rectum.

ACS/UCSD Telephone Counseling Study (Healthy Eating Program Pilot)

The objective of this study was to adapt the highly successful WHEL Study counseling program, so that American Cancer Society (ACS) volunteers could use it to provide dietary counseling to callers to the ACS toll-free helpline. Funded by the American Cancer Society, nearly 700 men and women participated in this study between 2002 and 2005.  Preliminary results of data from the pilot phase.

Adenomatous Polyp Prevention: Lifestyle and Eating (APPLE) Study

This randomized clinical feasibility trial investigated the effect of a high-vegetable, high-fiber, high-calcium diet on the risk of developing colon cancer after polyp removal. The study was funded by the National Cancer Institute and involved 100 male and female participants.

CHANGE (Customized Healthy Approach to Nutrition, Goal-Setting, & Exercise) Weight Loss Studies

These studies (CHANGE 102, 102E, and 104) were designed to test the effectiveness of a telephone-administered diet and exercise intervention on weight loss in obese males and females in the placebo arms of three separate clinical trials testing the safety and efficacy of injectable weight loss drug regimens. All three trials involve participants recruited from multiple (18-42) sites across the country. A total of 684 participants were enrolled into CHANGE 102, 274 into CHANGE 102E, and 281 into CHANGE 104. All of these studies are now closed, but data analysis is on-going.

Diet Intervention in Bladder Cancer Study (DIBS)

A pilot study to determine whether a telephone-based dietary counseling intervention will increase cruciferous vegetable intake in patients with superficial bladder cancer.  

Low Glycemic Load Diet and Breast Health Study

This pilot study assessed the feasibility of a randomized trial to promote long-term adaptation of a low glycemic load diet among women at high risk for breast cancer.  50 subjects from the Buffalo, NY, area have been recruited and consented by Roswell Park Cancer Institute. The dietary assessment and counseling intervention are handled through UCSD by telephone from the Nutritional Services Shared Resource at the Moores UCSD Cancer Center

MEAL Pilot Study (Men’s Eating and Living Study)

The MEAL Study was a multi-site pilot trial investigating whether our innovative telephone counseling program could help men previously treated for localized, low-risk prostate cancer adopt a cancer-preventive diet. The study enrolled 74 men 50-80 years of age who had been diagnosed with prostate cancer within the previous 48 months. More information on MEAL publications to date

UCSD/Avon Foundation Telephone Counseling Study (Healthy Eating Program Pilot)

This study provided breast cancer risk assessments to women between the ages of 25 and 70 years, along with education about lowering their breast cancer risk  (including modifying their diet). One of the objectives of the study was to determine whether this risk assessment and education motivated women to participate in a healthy eating program. Funded by the Avon Foundation, nearly 180 women participated in this study between 2002 and 2004. Preliminary results of data from the pilot phase of this study.

WHEL Study (Women’s Healthy Eating and Living Study)

This study followed 3,088 breast cancer survivors for 6-11 years. Participants were recruited between 1995 and 2000 from Arizona, California, Oregon, and Texas. The women were randomly assigned to one of two healthy diet groups. Key findings to date include:

  • 5-7 servings/day of vegetables and fruits plus 30 minutes/day moderate exercise reduced mortality by 50%. More information here.
  • Eating more than 7 servings/day of vegetables and fruits did not reduce recurrence or mortality.
  • Women with higher serum carotenoids (indicating more colorful vegetables/fruits) had lower recurrence rates. More information here.
  • Higher concentration of bioavailable estrogen contributes to risk for recurrence, and a high-fiber, low-fat diet intervention is associated with reduced serum bioavailable estrogen concentration.  

Services Available to Researchers

All Services Available to Researchers

In addition to dietary counseling, the Cancer Prevention and Control Program provides dietary assessment, and biochemical laboratory analysis services to other researchers through our Nutrition Shared Resource. Through this Resource, researchers are able to access the UCSD Dietary Supplement Database, which was developed and is maintained by our staff. This supplement database is one of the most extensive and detailed in the country with content data on over 9,000 formulations. By linking our dietary assessment software with the Supplement Database, we are able to provide researchers with detailed data on nutrient intake from dietary and supplement sources both separately and together, as well as descriptive data on types of supplements used (including herbals and botanicals)