When it comes to reducing the risk of cancer, maintaining a healthy weight, not smoking and not drinking alcohol in excess appear to be more important than eating extra servings of fruits and vegetables, according to findings recently published in the British Journal of Cancer.
The study analyzed a decade of scientific research on the association between a diet rich in fruit and vegetables and cancer development. Results showed alcohol consumption and obesity were the only diet-related factors that influenced cancer risk and that tobacco was still the leading cause of cancer. Lead author Tim Key wrote:
General nutritional principles indicate that healthy diets should include at least moderate amounts of fruit and vegetables, sufficient to prevent deficiencies of any nutrients, especially micronutrients such as vitamin C, which are mostly supplied by fruits and vegetables. However, the available data suggest that general increases in fruit and vegetable intake would not have much effect on cancer rates, at least in relatively well-nourished populations. Future research may be productive if it can be focused on biological pathways known to be relevant in the development of specific types of cancer, and can reliably assess long-term intakes of relevant fruits and vegetables. Currently, advice in relation to diet and cancer should include the recommendation to consume adequate amounts of fruit and vegetables, but should put more emphasis on the well-established adverse effects of obesity and high alcohol intakes on cancer risk.