Fruit May Sway Colon Cancer Risk
High-Fruit, Low-Meat Diet Helps Prevent Precancerous Polyps
"Some studies have found that high vegetable intake can be protective [for the colon], while others haven't. Our study didn't find that," Austin says.
However, he doesn't rule out the possibility that eating lots of vegetables protects against adenomas.
Participants who ate the most vegetables also ate a moderate amount of meat. Their meat intake may have offset the vegetables' protective effect, Austin notes.
"What would be ideal is if we had a high-vegetable, low-meat group, but that just wasn't something we had in our study," he says.
Keep Eating Veggies
People shouldn't hesitate to eat vegetables, Austin notes.
"Certainly we don't want people to interpret the findings of our study as any evidence that they should avoid eating vegetables," he says.
There may be other healthy reasons -- such as heart benefits -- to eat a lot of vegetables, Austin adds.
Participants weren't followed over time, and they weren't asked to change their diets.
"This is sort of a snapshot," Austin says. "What you'd like to be able to do is have people change their dietary pattern and see whether or not it changes their risk."
For instance, he says researchers could ask people with adenomas to change their diet and get a follow-up colonoscopy five years later to check their risk of recurrent polyps.
Get Screened for Colon Cancer
"No matter what we eat, people should still get screened for colorectal cancer," Austin says.
He says screening should start at age 50; people who are at high risk should begin screening earlier.
The study is scheduled for publication in April's edition of The Journal of Nutrition.