Veggies in Diet May Cut Lung Cancer Risk
Benefit May Include Current Smokers, Study Shows
WebMD News Archive
Sept. 27, 2005 -- The health perks of eating your vegetables may include a
lower risk of lung cancer, new research shows.
The finding, published in The Journal of the American Medical
Association, isn't written in stone. More work is needed to check the
results, write Matthew Schabath, PhD, and colleagues.
Schabath works at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center.
Preventing Lung Cancer
Quitting smoking is the best way to prevent lung cancer, states the
Meanwhile, eating a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes,
and other plant-based products may help.
"Patients should be informed that they may further reduce their risk of
developing cancer by adopting a diet rich in fruits and vegetables," states
The editorialists included Lawrence Dacey, MD, MS. Dacey works in the
departments of surgery and community and family medicine at New Hampshire's
Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center.
Lung Cancer, Diet Studied
Schabath's study included more than 1,600 lung cancer patients and compared
them with more than 1,700 people without lung cancer.
Participants were asked about their diets in the year before lung cancer
diagnosis or in the year before the study (if they didn't have lung
Special attention was paid to foods including soy, beans, broccoli, spinach,
carrots, tea, and rye. Those items include natural compounds called
Phytoestrogens have "weak estrogen-like activity," write Schabath
The scientists had previously found lower lung cancer risk for women who
reported using hormone therapy. They wanted to see if the same was true for
Smokers, Nonsmokers Included
Some lung cancer patients have never smoked cigarettes, and not all smokers
develop lung cancer. So smoking habits were noted.
People were called "ever smokers" if they had smoked at least 100
cigarettes in their lifetime.
Former smokers were those who had quit smoking at least a year before being
diagnosed with lung cancer or before the study was done.
Most people -- with or without lung cancer -- were former smokers. Current
smokers came in second. Few people were nonsmokers.
The study showed that overall, the people who consumed the highest amount of
phytoestrogens from food had nearly half the lung cancer risk as those with the
lowest phytoestrogen intake from food.
The pattern was strongest in nonsmokers. It was also seen in current
smokers, but less so in former smokers, the researchers report.
Findings Differed for Men, Women
Men's lung cancer risk was lower for all three types of plant compounds that
That included two types of phytoestrogens (isoflavones and lignans), as well
as phytosterols, a similar type of plant compound linked to vegetable oils,
margarines, spreads, grains, and certain fruits and vegetables.
However, women's lung cancer risk dropped most when the researchers looked
at the big picture of all three plant compounds, not the specific plant
Women who consumed a lot of phytoestrogens and also took hormone therapy had
fewer cases of lung cancer than those not taking hormone therapy, the study