Fruits, Veggies Don’t Cut Colon Cancer
But Cancer Risk Higher Among People With the Lowest Intake of Fruits and Vegetables, Researchers Say
WebMD News Archive
Study Details continued...
"People in the highest vs. lowest intake of fruits and vegetables had a
9% lower risk of colon cancer overall, but it did not reach statistical
significance," McCullough says.
When the researchers evaluated the association by site of the cancer, they
found those who ate the highest amounts had a 26% reduced risk of distal colon
cancers. "For proximal colon cancer (the rest of the colon) there was no
association," Koushik says. "Even though we saw this [positive]
association with distal colon cancer [risk], the differences between distal and
proximal were not statistically significant."
The study is published in the Oct. 3 issue of the Journal of the National
The analysis of the 14 studies may have some inherent flaws, says Mansi
Shah, RD, a clinical dietitian at the Outpatient Cancer Center at the Samuel
Oschin Comprehensive Cancer Institute at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Los
Angeles, who reviewed the findings for WebMD.
The diet was self-reported. "People can forget about what they eat, and
they can overestimate," Shah says.
Although the link between fruit and vegetable intake and colon cancer was
weak, Shah says a diet rich in fruits and vegetables is still recommended for a
number of other reasons. Eating a lot of fruits and vegetables, she says, may
be associated with a healthier diet overall.
"Most people who are consciously eating healthy, eating a lot of fruits
and vegetables, are the ones who say they try to limit their intake of fat and
refined carbohydrates," she says.
What to Do?
"Continue eating [the recommended] five to nine servings of fruits and
vegetables a day," Shah advises. Doing so will help protect you from heart
disease, obesity, and high blood pressure, she says.
McCullough and Koushik agree. Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables might
help people avoid other unhealthy foods known to raise colon cancer risk, says
McCullough. Such as? "Red and processed meats are consistently linked with
an elevated risk of colon cancer," she says.
In 2007, about 112,340 new cases of colon cancer and 41,420 new cases of
rectal cancer are expected in the U.S., according to the American Cancer
Society. An estimated 52,180 deaths from colorectal cancer are expected this