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High Fruit and Vegetable Consumption May Reduce Cancer Risk

A large European study involving nearly half a million participants shows that eating more fruits and vegetables may reduce the risk of colon cancer and colorectal cancer.


The findings of the study were published in the April 2009 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.


Researchers with the Dutch National Institute for Public Health and the Environment analyzed data from 452,755 participants in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC).


EPIC was a large European study designed to investigate the relationships between diet, nutritional status, lifestyle and environmental factors and the incidence of cancer and other chronic diseases.


The participants were recruited in 1992 and were followed for an average of 9 years.  Detailed information on diet and lifestyle was obtained through questionnaires. Blood samples taken at the beginning of the study were later used to make comparisons between individuals who developed cancer and those who did not.


During the nine years of follow-up, the researchers documented 2,819 cases of colorectal cancer.


The researchers found that the participants with the highest fruit and vegetable intake saw a 14% reduction in colorectal cancer risk, and a 24% reduction in the risk of colon cancer compared to those with the lowest intakes.


According to the World Health Organization, most Americans and Europeans fail to consume the recommended 400 grams of fruits and vegetables a day.  Additionally, most people are not eating the right types of vegetables.


Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, Brussels sprouts and cabbage, as well as onions, garlic, and leeks, have the highest cancer fighting potential, yet these vegetables only account for a very small part of our diet.

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