Eating your five-a-day ‘does little to cut cancer risk’

Eating fruit and vegetables does little to help people avoid cancer, say researchers.

Despite public health messages about the benefits of ‘five a day’, a major study shows it has a ‘very weak’ effect on preventing cancer.

Campaigners stress that a diet high in fruit and vegetables reduces the risk of obesity, a major cause of cancer, and is good for the heart.

But a study of almost 500,000 people found eating five portions a day – about 400g – had little effect on cancer risk.

Eating fruit and vegetables does little to help people avoid cancer, say researchers

Eating fruit and vegetables does little to help people avoid cancer, say researchers

And researchers said the ‘small’ protective effect that was seen could be caused by other factors.

They analysed data from 23 centres in ten countries for the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition. UK centres included Cambridge and Oxford.

Diet was compared against the number of cancers between 1992 and 2000.

The study took into account other factors likely to influence results such as smoking, alcohol intake, obesity, exercise and whether women had taken the Pill or HRT.

People were sorted into five groups, from those with the lowest intake of fruit and vegetables (0 to 226g a day) to the highest (more than 647g a day).

The cancer risk did not vary between groups.

However, people could cut their risk by increasing their normal intake of fruit and vegetables, regardless of which group they were in.

Eating an extra 200g a day cut the risk by three per cent, an extra 100g a day by about two per cent and 50g by one per cent.

Heavy drinkers cut their risk by eating lots of fruit and vegetables, but this only applied to cancers caused by alcohol or smoking.

The findings contradict a 1997 report from the World Cancer Research Fund, which said there was ‘convincing evidence’ of protection against respiratory and digestive cancers.

The latest study, led by Paolo Boffetta from Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York, was published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

Dr Rachel Thompson, science programme manager for the WCRF, said: ‘It is not surprising that the overall [reduction in risk] is quite low. But for the UK, this works out as about 7,000 cases a year.’

source: dailymail.co.uk

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