CancerDiet-NutritionE. DIETARY

Effects of eating more fruits and veggies on cancer risk

It’s widely believed that cancer can be prevented by eating lots of fruits and vegetables.

Here’s what we really know.

First, the details.

  • 478,478 adults were studied for about 9 years.
  • Detailed information on dietary habits and lifestyle variables was reported by the participants.
  • The relationships between the risk of cancer and intake of total fruits, total vegetables, and total fruits + vegetables were ascertained.
  • The findings were adjusted for the confounding effects of alcohol, smoking, and other variables.

And, the results.

  • Associations between reduced cancer risk and intake of total fruits, total vegetables (each 100 grams/day increased intake), and total fruits + vegetables (200 grams/day increased intake) were similar.
  • The reduced risk of cancer associated with high vegetable intake was restricted to women.
  • Stratification by alcohol intake suggested a stronger reduction in risk in heavy drinkers and was confined to cancers caused by smoking and alcohol.

The bottom line?

The authors concluded, “Given the small magnitude of the observed associations, caution should be applied in their interpretation.”

In other words, a link between reduced cancer risk and increased intake of fruit and/or veggies remains to be proved.

4/27/10 7:18 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.