Fruit, Vegetables & Cancer

Will a diet rich in fruits and vegetables decrease your risk of breast cancer? That’s the question a small army of researchers sought to answer in a study published earlier this week in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

Reviewing eight previously published studies of over 350,000 women, the authors of the review determined that there was no statistical reason to conclude that fruits and vegetables were associated with reduced breast cancer risks. Eight botanical groups, green leafy vegetables and 17 specific fruits and vegetables were considered before the researchers concluded that no associations were observed.

The American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) quickly responded to the study, with criticism. “The review,” stated AICR, “…considered evidence from only one method of investigation – cohort studies. Compelling evidence from case-control, correlation, intervention and laboratory studies was ignored.” According to the AICR, 78% of the studies on the connection of vegetable and/or fruit consumption have shown that higher intake of these foods significantly lowered risk of total cancer incidence.

A more comprehensive and accurate review, according to the AICR, examined over 4,500 research studies of diet and cancer. The conclusions from “Food, Nutrition and the Prevention of Cancer: A Global Perspective” found that diets high in vegetables and fruits are, indeed, associated with a decrease in breast cancer risks. The American Dietetic Association seems to agree, according to a fact sheet on nutrition and breast cancer which concludes that a diet low in fat and high in fiber, fruit and vegetables appears to be sound advice.

The AICR estimates that 20% of cancer rates could be decreased simply by eating the recommended five servings of fruits and vegetables each day.