1. What is the Genesis charity and what are their aims and objectives?

Genesis Breast Cancer Prevention is the only UK charity entirely dedicated to PREDICTING and PREVENTING breast cancer

  • Genesis Breast Cancer Prevention supports and continues to raise money for a variety of different research projects concerned with breast cancer prediction and prevention.
  • Our overall goal is to make breast cancer a preventable disease for the next generation of women.
  • We do not fund animal experiments.
  • We do not fund chemotherapy development.

Our mission is to create a future free from breast cancer and make the 1 in 10 women who develop the disease, none in 10.


  • To predict which women are most susceptible to breast cancer.
  • To diagnose the disease early through better and earlier detection methods.
  • To research and develop preventative procedures for the disease.
  • To increase the uptake of breast screening in minority ethnic groups.


  • To identify women as high, medium or low risk through gene, lifestyle and breast density testing
  • To undertake further research into high risk genes and gene fragments (SNPs)
  • To offer diet and lifestyle interventions to those deemed high-risk
  • To increase the frequency of screening for high-risk women
  • To improve diagnosis and treatment of pre-cancer changes
  • To develop preventative drugs for appropriate patients
  • To introduce lifestyle change to prevent the disease
  • To provide more accurate breast screening tools
  • To raise awareness of the disease in minority ethnic communities

2. How is Genesis Breast Cancer Prevention different to other breast cancer charities?

Genesis Breast Cancer Prevention is the only UK charity entirely dedicated to PREDICTING and PREVENTING breast cancer. Other charities focus on treatment of breast cancer or caring for people with cancer. However we are unique in that all of our work is aimed at understanding the causes of breast cancer and how we can predict who is most likely to suffer from the disease and then what steps can be taken to prevent those people from developing breast cancer.

We estimate that out of all the funds raised for breast cancer, only 2% is spent on prevention

Genesis is based at Europe’s first breast cancer prevention centre, The Nightingale Centre and Genesis Breast Cancer Prevention Centre, which is located in South Manchester. The charity supports many of the people and projects based there.

3. How can I find out more information about the charity

Please read all about the charity on our website www.genesisuk.org

4. Do they receive any funding from government?

We receive no government or statutory funding for our research although some of our studies are undertaken in collaboration with other charities and we also obtain government research grants (NIHR).

5. What is breast cancer?

  • Breast cancer is the most common cancer in the UK.
  • 1 in 10 women and 1 in 1000 men presently develop breast cancer during their lifetime.
  • In the UK over 48,000 women will develop breast cancer each year and tragically 12,000 of these women do not survive.
  • Breast cancer causes more deaths in women between 35 and 55 years of age than any other disease.
  • In the last 10 years, female incidence rates have increased by 3.6% and the disease is continuing to increase across the world.
  • Only 2% of UK cancer research funds are currently spent on prevention.
  • Breast cancer rates have increased by 57% in the last 30 years.
  • If current trends continue it is estimated that by 2024, in the UK 55,700 new cases will be diagnosed each year.

There is not one single cause of breast cancer; rather it appears to be several different factors working together.

  • The genes you are born with
  • Your lifestyle
  • Environmental factors
  • Hormonal factors (eg late first pregnancy)

The combination of all these factors can trigger a breast cancer.

6. How do we go about preventing breast cancer?

Breast cancer is caused by the interplay of your genes, hormones, your lifestyle and environmental factors. The environmental factors are a combination of triggers linked to Western diet, lifestyle and culture. Thus there are preventable causes of the disease.

At present the best avenues for prevention are to be a normal weight, exercise and to reduce the effects of oestogen on the breast using such drugs as tamoxifen and raloxifene.

However an understanding of the factors that cause breast cancer may allow you to lower your risk and help prevent the disease step by step.

To read more about understanding risk and preventing breast cancer, visit http://www.genesisuk.org/faq

7. What’s the primary benefit of the diet? Weight loss.

Our weight loss research with nearly 1000 women, including 200 on our new 2 Day Diet, and many serial dieters, shows that this new approach really can work, even when everything else has failed.

8. How will the diet help you avoid cancer?

The diet achieves good weight loss. Research shows that losing even a small amount of excess weight (five to ten per cent of your weight and keeping it off) can help reduce your risk of diseases like type-2 diabetes, heart disease and breast and bowel cancer and potentially 11 other weight related cancers. What’s more there is evidence that losing weight with the 2 Day Diet may have even greater health benefits than those gained by using a standard weight loss plan. It brings about bigger drops in the hormone insulin than standard dieting. Insulin is linked to the diseases mentioned above.

9. Is it just breast cancer or will it help to prevent other cancers e.g. bowel, ovarian, prostate etc?

See above

10. Can the diet help if you already have cancer

The research undertaken which lead to the diet was not aimed at cancer treatments and anyone who has developed cancer should not embark on any dietary regimes without medical advice or supervision.

11. How can the diet help you prevent cancer reoccurring?

One of our current trials called the B-AHEAD study is assessing whether the 2 day diet can control weight after diagnosis of breast cancer. Ultimately we hope that application of this approach may help to prevent breast cancer recurrence.

12. Effect of the 2 Day Diet on average over a three month period?

Reduction of:-

  1. Weight by 6kg (13 Ibs) / max 14.5 kg (32 Ibs)
  2. Body Fat by 4.6 kg (10 Ibs)/ max 11 kg (24 Ibs)
  3. Waist by 6 cm/ max 19 cm
  4. Insulin by 12% / max 76%
  5. Cholesterol by 6% / max 34%
  6. Blood pressure by 11% / max 40%

13. What are the health benefits of following the diet if you don’t need to lose weight?

If you have a healthy weight and waist measurement, two day dieting is probably not a good idea as we don’t know the impact of the diet on healthy weight individuals. However having one restricted day a week appears to help you maintain a healthy weight and prevent weight gain.

14. What does clinically proven for weight loss mean?

The 2 Day Diet is based on research undertaken by Dr Michelle Harvie and Professor Tony Howell as part of their work for Genesis Breast Cancer Prevention. They have been involved in a number of studies looking at the preventative effect of calorie restriction on breast cancer over the past 12 years. The weight loss of those people taking part in the studies was of course carefully monitored. The most recent version of The 2 Day Diet in the book was the result of one specific study: “The acceptability and efficacy of intermittent a low carbohydrate diet for weight loss and its effects on biomarkers of breast cancer risks.”

15. Is it clinically proven to prevent cancer?

We have used the 2 Day Diet to show that it is superior with respect to weight and fat loss than a standard continuous daily diet. Previously we have shown that women before the menopause who lose 5% or more of their body weight and keep it off have a 40% reduction of breast cancer risk compared with women who continue to gain weight.

16. By what percentage will it reduce my risk of getting cancer?

Our study suggested that there was a 40% reduction of breast cancer if you lost and maintained 5% or greater weight before the menopause and a 25% reduction if you lost and maintained 5% or greater weight after the menopause. This is compared with women who continued to gain weight which is the norm.

17. Is it more effective than chemotherapy?
Chemotherapy is often given after the diagnosis of breast cancer. It is important to take the treatment if prescribed. Weight gain is common during chemotherapy and, it is likely that, if we could prevent this gain, survival from breast cancer may be improved. This question is the subject of our ongoing trials.

18. Does this diet work as well for men as for women?
There is no reason to believe there is any difference in response for men compared with women. However, most of our studies have been performed on female volunteers. Although a number of men working in our centre have successfully dieted using this approach.

19. How does the 2 Day Diet compare with other diets?
We have compared the 2 Day Diet with a standard low calorie healthy eating diet.

The 2 day diet was superior:-

  1. 65% of women were able to stick to it over 4 months compared with 40% on the daily diet
  2. The 2 Day Diet was associated with lower insulin levels
  3. There was also more loss of fat and a lower loss of muscle with the 2 Day Diet
20. Why did we decide to write the book?
We have been impressed by the results in our trials comparing standard dieting to the 2-Day Diet, so we wanted raise awareness of this new approach. There has been an increasing interest in intermittent and two day diets, and as a result, untested regimens are now being promoted. We wanted to inform the public of the evidence-based 2-Day Diet which we have proven to work and which does not appear to have adverse effects.

The proceeds of the book will go directly to Genesis Breast Cancer Prevention and enable us to undertake further research in a bid to:

  • Understand the mechanisms of the beneficial effects of the diet on different body systems and disease processes
  • Develop assistive technology to give further support to dieters who are trying the 2-Day Diet
  • Undertake larger and longer term studies in different populations – i.e. women receiving treatment for breast cancer and overweight women in the breast screening programme – as well as undertake a large national weight loss study with other obesity researchers whereby men and women are recruited from GP practices.

21. Is the diet safe for everyone?
The 2-Day Diet is designed for weight loss and should only be followed if you are overweight. The diet can be adapted to one day a week, which can help maintain a healthy weight and prevent weight gain. This can be followed if you are currently a healthy weight, but concerned that your weight is increasing.

You should not attempt the Intermittent Diet if you are a child, a teenager, pregnant, breastfeeding, suffering from depression or have an eating disorder. The moderately high levels of protein in this diet may pose problems for anyone suffering from, or at risk of, kidney disease. If you are taking medication, have diabetes or any other medical condition, seek advice from your GP before embarking on any diet and exercise programme.

22. Why two days?
We wanted to make a departure from the grind of dieting every day. For most people, daily dieting does not work because it is difficult to maintain. The two days, however, are achievable, allow long enough to reduce your overall calorie intake, retrain your eating habits and they may have additional beneficial effects on metabolism and disease risk.

23. Do I have to diet for two consecutive days?
We recommend that the two days are done together because many dieters find the second day as easy, if not easier than the first, as they have got into the habit of eating less. Doing the two days together also helps to ensure that you actually get round to doing the second day and it may have additional health benefits because it provides a prolonged period when the body is in a healthier metabolic state.

24. Is the diet suitable for vegetarians and vegans?
We have found that the diet should work just as well for vegetarians and vegans as for those who eat meat and fish. The key is to make sure that you include enough protein and don’t overload on carbohydrates. There are a number of vegetarian, filling, high-protein foods you can include and you will find plenty of suitable recipes for your two restricted days, as well as the five unrestricted days.

25. How does this 2-Day Diet differ from other 5:2 diets?
The main difference is that you don’t need to calorie count. You just follow simple rules: low carbohydrate, plenty of healthy protein foods and fat, and low carbohydrate vegetables and fruit.

The diet has been specifically designed by a research dietitian with simple rules so it is filling, satisfying, allows lots of choice, is nutritionally balanced, and is designed to lose fat and preserve muscle.

This diet has proved to be more effective and successful than standard daily dieting in our clinical trials. The other 5:2 diets have not been researched or clinically investigated.

The two days are consecutive, which we have found increases compliance and may have additional beneficial effects on our health than just one day at a time.

26. Can I adjust the 2-Day Diet to fit into my life?
The diet was designed to be ‘do-able’, and is based on Dr Harvie’s experience of working with dieters for over 22 years as a dietician. The diet has simple rules, but sufficient choice to accommodate different tastes and lifestyles.

The book has meal plans which you can use or adapt to suit your preferences and lifestyle. You can change your two days each week to fit in around any events or occasions. The reason the 2-Day Diet is so successful is that it is adaptable and easy for people to fit in with their lives.

27. Why does the 2-Day Diet lose more weight than other diets?
Any diet will work if people stick to it, and the 2-Day Diet is a diet which people are more likely to stick to. Our volunteers find it easier to keep to two days of dieting a week rather than the prospect of daily dieting. They feel good and often energised on their two days and their enthusiasm to diet is reinforced each week by the two days.

An added bonus is that we find our two-day dieters are likely to eat healthily on their unrestricted days, which boosts the overall success of the diet.

28. Does the 2-Day Diet offer health benefits in addition to those achieved with weight loss?
The greater chance of weight loss with the 2-Day Diet boosts its health effects. The 2-Day Diet involves a 48 hour spell of low calorie and carbohydrate each week. We know that this brings about large reductions in the hormone insulin, which is likely to reduce the activity and growth of cells, and hence their chances of cells becoming damaged and starting disease.

You would not be able to sustain such low carbohydrate and calories on a daily basis long term, so the 2-Day Diet allows a way of the body to switch to a healthier metabolic state each week.

29. Will the diet be as effective if such items are removed from it? E.g.
Salmon, dairy, avocado etc?

The recommended diets for the 2 restricted days and for the 5 unrestricted days within The 2 day diet are designed to provide the optimum balance of nutrients. Restricted days are low carb, and allow a generous number of servings of protein foods, healthy fats, low fat dairy and low carb vegetables. The unrestricted days allow a generous number of servings of high fibre carbohydrate foods, protein foods, healthy fats, fruit and vegetables. The book describes the optimum number of servings of these food groups for restricted and unrestricted days to achieve the right balance of nutrients. Each food groups contains a large range of possible alternative foods, for example salmon is just one of around 45 possible protein foods, whereas avocado is one of 15 different possible fat foods to choose from. With so much choice you should find a combination of protein, fat foods etc that you like to fit the diet by looking at the detailed food lists in the book. You are allowed 3 portions of low fat dairy foods on both restricted and non restricted days. You can use soy milk and yoghurt instead of dairy versions. Salmon is a healthy oily fish and a good source of omega 3 fats. If you don’t like salmon try to include other omega 3 rich foods like other oily fish such as sardines, mackerel and fresh tuna (not tinned) and for vegetarians omega-3-enriched eggs, flaxseed, walnuts and rapeseed oil.

30. The previous Genesis 2 day diet was based on milk, why is the new diet different?
The first 2 day diet we tested was based on just having 650 calories from 2 pints of milk or yoghurt and fruit and vegetables on restricted days. This simple diet worked well for quite a lot of dieters but the limited choice meant a number of dieters got fed up with this diet over time. Realising there was room for improvement we set out to make The 2 Day Diet more tasty, varied and filling by allowing a wider range of protein foods and fats and therefore more likely to be followed. The new improved 2 day diet (on which The 2 Day Diet book is based) has turned out to be just that, with less hunger and more enjoyment of food and a bigger chance of being kept to.

31. Was there a problem with having too much milk in the original 2 day Genesis diet?
The original 2 day diet based on milk is safe, and has been shown to achieve good weight loss and reduce blood markers which indicate of risk of cancer and diabetes and heart disease. We are recommending the new low carb, high protein 2 day diet above the milk diet as we believe it is easier for people to keep to.

Many people worry that dairy foods may increase levels of growth factors specifically insulin like growth which may in turn increase the risk of cancer. There is no evidence that dairy foods are linked to breast cancer, in fact overviews of evidence suggest dairy has either protective or neutral effects of dairy on breast cancer risk. In addition, circulating levels of IGF-1 are minimally affected by dairy foods.  Our original milk  2 day diet showed dramatic increases in blood levels of a protein which binds to IGF -1 in the blood. This will reduce any potential harmful biological effect of IGF-1 in the blood.  We have not measured these binding proteins in our recent study, but the new 2 Day Diet is highly effective at lowering insulin which indicates these binding proteins levels will also be increased.

32. How can the diet help you prevent breast cancer reoccurring?
Being a healthy weight, preventing weight gain during treatment and having lower levels of insulin can reduce the chances of recurrence. The 2-Day Diet is an effective way to lose weight, and keep it off and brings about lower levels of insulin on restricted and unrestricted days. Our research to date has focussed on women who do not have breast cancer. One of our current trials called the B-AHEAD study is assessing whether The 2-Day Diet can control weight and insulin levels after diagnosis of breast cancer. Ultimately we hope that application of this approach may help to prevent breast cancer recurrence.

33. If I am a healthy weight can The 2-Day Diet help reduce my chances of recurrence?
Being a healthy weight and preventing weight gain during treatment and having lower levels of insulin can reduce the chances of recurrence. The first thing is to check that you are a healthy weight, and not carrying too much body fat in general (% body fat), or weight around the middle (waist measurement) as explained in Chapter 2 of the book.  Sometimes we can appear to be a healthy weight, but may have too much fat, which would be good to lose. 1 restricted day of the diet will help maintain a healthy weight, and prevent the all too common problem of gaining weight.  Our research has shown that for those people with a healthy weight, following the diet for 1 day each week will still lower insulin levels and most likely bring about beneficial changes. Because of this research, following the diet for 1 day per week instead of 2 is likely to be helpful for women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer, but there is no absolute proof and we need to undertake more research. 


General Health
NHS Change for Life (campaign to improve family health) http://www.nhs.uk/Change4Life/Pages/change-for-life.aspx
NHS Live Well (includes couch to 5K stuff) http://www.nhs.uk/livewell/Pages/Livewellhub.aspx
British Heart Foundation: http://www.bhf.org.uk/heart-health/prevention.aspx
Diabetes UK: www.diabetes.org.uk
Cancer Research UK: www.canceresearchuk.org
Arthritis Care: www.arthritiscare.org.uk/

Food standards agency: http://www.food.gov.uk/
National dairy council uk: http://www.milk.co.uk/
The Nutrition society: http://www.nutritionsociety.org/index.asp

Weight Management
Weight wise British Dietetic Association: http://www.bdaweightwise.com/
Weight Concern: http://www.weightconcern.org.uk/
National Obesity Forum: http://www.nationalobesityforum.org.uk/
National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute  guidelines on weight management Identification, Evaluation, Treatment of Overweight and 

Physical Activity

British Heart Foundation National Centre for Physical Activity and Health: http://www.bhfactive.org.uk/links/

Walking the way to health: http://www.whi.org.uk/

Walking for health: www.walkingforhealth.org.uk/

Sustrans: www.sustrans.org.uk
Ramblers Association: www.ramblers.org.uk/

Sport: www.sportengland.org/
Natural England: www.naturalengland.org.uk/

Sport: www.sportsscotland.org.uk/
Fitness Scotland: www.fitness-scotland.com

Sport: www.sportwales.org.uk/

Northern Ireland
Sport: www.sportni.net/
Fitness: http://www.fitnessni.org/home.html

Sport: http://www.irishsportscouncil.ie/

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