Professor Tim Key

Professor of Epidemiology & Deputy Director, Cancer Epidemiology Unit


Professor Key’s main interests are the roles of diet and sex hormones in cancer, particularly cancers of the breast, prostate and colon, and the health status of vegetarians and vegans.

His recent papers have shown that breast cancer risk is strongly related to the serum concentration of oestradiol, that vegetarian diets do not reduce the incidence of colorectal cancer but may reduce the risk of cancers of the stomach, bladder and blood, and that diets containing only plant proteins may reduce insulin-like growth factor-I, a growth factor that appears to be important in the development of several types of cancer.

He currently works mostly on the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC), as the principal investigator of the Oxford cohort of 65,000 participants, including 30,000 people who don’t eat meat.  He is also chairman of the EPIC prostate cancer group, co-ordinates the Endogenous Hormones and Breast Cancer Collaborative Group, and is a member of the UK Department of Health’s Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition.