University of Calgary

Darren Brenner

  • Assistant Professor
  • Full Time Faculty


Dr. Brenner is a molecular cancer epidemiologist in the Department of Cancer Epidemiology and Prevention Research. His research is focused on the intersection of lifestyle, genetics and molecular pathways in the development of several cancers, including lung, breast and colon. The impact of chronic inflammation from lifestyle (obesity, physical inactivity, smoking, poor nutrition) and environmental factors on breast and lung cancer risk are currently being evaluated in several case-control, cohort and randomized intervention trials. The aim of this research is to identify high risk populations, novel risk factor profiles and potential markers of early detection of cancer.

Dr. Brenner has been working to examine to the impact of physical inactivity on cancer risk in less well-studied cancer sites including pancreatic cancer and lung cancer. He conducted an analysis of a case-control study in Central Europe that suggested that regular leisure-time physical activity reduces pancreatic cancer risk by 30-40%. He is also undertaking a multi-centered, multi-country study to examine the role of tobacco in the association between physical activity and lung cancer. This association has been plagued by the potential for confounding by tobacco. This new study will provide clarity to this association using serum cotinine levels as objective measures of tobacco consumption.

Dr. Brenner has been researching the impact of physical inactivity and obesity on cancer burden in Canada. This research interest has led to the development of multiple research projects that are focused on cancer prevention through burden quantification. Current projects in Alberta and at the national level are working to quantify the current and future (up to 2045) impacts of all known lifestyle (tobacco consumption and exposure, dietary factors, alcohol consumption, physical inactivity, obesity, sexually transmitted infections and hormone use) and environmental (air pollution, water contaminants, radon, UV radiation) factors on cancer incidence.

Photograph of Darren Brenner
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