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Thursday 29th September 2016
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5-a-day will not reduce cancer risk

1st December 2010

Experts have suggested that eating large quantities of fruit and vegetables will do little to reduce the risk of developing cancer.

A review of 10 years of research covering a million people has suggested that reducing smoking and alcohol consumption and maintaining a healthy weight is a far better way to avoid cancer.

While acknowledging that vegetables and fruit are an important part of diet, review author Tim Key from Oxford University said: “There’s strong scientific evidence to show that, after smoking, being overweight and alcohol are two of the biggest cancer risks.”

Writing in the British Journal of Cancer, the epidemiologist found little evidence from the long-term research projects to indicate a connection between eating fruit and vegetables and warding off cancer.

“The conclusion implies that, at least in relatively well-nourished westernised populations, a general increase in total fruit and vegetable intake will not have a large impact on cancer rates,” he wrote.

“A certain level of intake is necessary to prevent nutrient deficiencies, but intakes above that level do not make the relevant tissues 'super healthy'.”

Key focused on a range of studies including data from the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition, the Pooling Project based at Harvard University, and the National Institutes of Health and American Association of Retired Persons Diet and Health Study.

The idea that fruit and vegetables may help reduce cancer rates was first raised in the 1970s from a small-scale study which suggested that people with reduced intakes of vitamin A were at increased risk of lung cancer.

 

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