Refrigeration, a key player in the fight against cancer

Refrigeration technologies are an essential part of the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of several cancers.

Every year on 4 February, World Cancer Day raises awareness and promotes education and collective action towards a cancer-free world.

Refrigeration technologies come into play at several stages in the fight against cancer.


The food cold chain contributes to the dramatic decrease in cases of stomach cancer cases


By improving food preservation, the cold chain has allowed the eradication of the H. pylori bacteria, associated with most cases of stomach cancer. Since 1930, cases of stomach cancers have fallen by 90% and a steady decline in incidence and mortality rates of stomach cancers has been observed consistently over more than five decades across all world regions, according to the IARC/WHO World Cancer Report.[1,2] Furthermore, refrigeration is associated with an increase in fresh fruit and vegetables consumption, which also contributes to cancer prevention.[3]


Cryogenic cooling is essential to operate MRI scanners for cancer screening and diagnosis


Whole-body magnetic resonance imaging (WB-MRI) is currently recommended for cancer screening in adult and paediatric subjects in cases of skin cancer (melanoma), high-risk prostate cancer or myeloma. [4] Superconductivity – a phenomenon enabled by cryogenic technologies – is at the heart of Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scanners. MRI scanners use superconducting magnets that are cooled to 4 K (-269,15°C) using liquid helium.


Cryosurgery is effective in treating several cancers


Cryosurgery or cryoablation is used as a clinical treatment in some forms of skin cancer, prostate cancer, bone cancer, etc. It is proven to have a 99% success rate for skin cancer, and a 99.4% success rate for low-risk breast cancers.[2]



Please visit the World Cancer Day website.




1. Wild, C., Weiderpass, E., & Stewart, B. (2020). World Cancer Report: Cancer Research for Cancer Prevention (International Agency for Research on Cancer).

2. DUPONT, J. L. (2019). The Role of Refrigeration in the Global Economy (2019), 38th Note on Refrigeration Technologies. IIF-IIR.

3. Ilic, M., & Ilic, I. (2022). Epidemiology of stomach cancer. World Journal of Gastroenterology, 28(12), 1187–1203.

4. Petralia, G., Zugni, F., Summers, P. E., Colombo, A., Pricolo, P., Grazioli, L., Colagrande, S., Giovagnoni, A., & Padhani, A. R. (2021). Whole-body magnetic resonance imaging (WB-MRI) for cancer screening: Recommendations for use. La Radiologia Medica, 126(11), 1434–1450.


Image credits: World Cancer Day logo by Union for International Cancer Control (UICC) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareALike 4.0 International License.