Study finds only a weak link between fruit and vegetable and reduced risk of cancer

Apr 06, 2010

An analysis by Mount Sinai researchers of over eight years of dietary data from more than 400,000 people has found that the relationship between high consumption of fruits and vegetables and a reduced risk of cancer is not as strong as commonly thought. The study is published online April 6, 2010 in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

It is widely believed that a diet rich in fruits and vegetables can reduce the risk of . In 1990, the World Health Organization recommended eating five servings of fruits and vegetables a day to prevent cancer and other diseases. However, although many studies have been conducted since then, none have been able to confirm an association between fruit and vegetable intake and cancer resistance.

Paolo Boffetta, MD, MPH, lead author of the study and Deputy Director of The Tisch Cancer Institute at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, and colleagues analyzed data from the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) study to assess relationships between cancer risk and intake of total fruits, total vegetables, and total fruits and vegetables combined.

The EPIC cohort, which is ongoing and coordinated by professor Elio Riboli at Imperial College in London, included 142,605 men and 335,873 women recruited between 1992 and 2000 from 10 Western European countries. Detailed information on their and lifestyle variables was obtained. After a median follow-up of 8.7 years, more than 30,000 of the study's participants were diagnosed with cancer.

Dr. Boffetta and colleagues found a small but significant inverse relationship between high intake of fruits and vegetables and overall cancer risk. In this population, an increase of 200 grams a day of fruits and vegetables resulted in a reduction of about 3 percent of . Vegetable consumption by itself also afforded a modest benefit but was restricted to women. Heavy drinkers who ate many fruits and vegetables had a somewhat reduced risk, but only for cancers caused by smoking and alcohol.

"The bottom line here is that, yes, we did find a protective effect of and vegetable intake against cancer, but it is a smaller connection than previously thought," said Dr. Boffetta. "Any cancer protective effect of these foods is likely to be modest, at best.

"However, eating fruits and is beneficial for health in general and the results of this study do not justify changing current recommendations aiming at increasing intake of these foods," said Dr. Boffetta.

Explore further: Second-line cetuximab active beyond progression in quadruple wild-type patients with mCRC

Related Stories

Broccoli may lower lung cancer risk in smokers

Nov 18, 2008

The cancer preventive properties of broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables appear to work specifically in smokers, according to data presented at the American Association for Cancer Research's Seventh Annual International ...

Recommended for you

Spicy treatment the answer to aggressive cancer?

Jul 03, 2015

It has been treasured by food lovers for thousands of years for its rich golden colour, peppery flavour and mustardy aroma…and now turmeric may also have a role in fighting cancer.

Cancer survivors who smoke perceive less risk from tobacco

Jul 02, 2015

Cancer survivors who smoke report fewer negative opinions about smoking, have more barriers to quitting, and are around other smokers more often than survivors who had quit before or after their diagnosis, according to a ...

Melanoma mutation rewires cell metabolism

Jul 02, 2015

A mutation found in most melanomas rewires cancer cells' metabolism, making them dependent on a ketogenesis enzyme, researchers at Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University have discovered.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.