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Five-a-day might not cut cancer risk

7th April 2010

A new study has suggested that eating more fruit and vegetables has only a modest effect on protecting against cancer.

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The study into the link between diet and disease looked at 500,000 people in Europe and found that only 2.5% of cancers could be averted by increasing the intake of fruit and vegetables.

While acknowledging such foods are good for health, the findings are a further blow to five-a-day initiatives aimed at improving the lifestyles of western populations.

Recruits from 10 countries to the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition were analysed by the team led by researchers from the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York.

Writing in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, they said they could not rule out that even the small reduction in cancer risk seen was down to the fact that the kind of people who ate more fruit and vegetables lived healthier lives in many other respects.

Professor Walter Willet of Harvard University said the research strongly confirmed the findings of other studies showing "that any association of intake and fruits and vegetables with risk of cancer is weak at best".

But charities maintained that eating fruit and vegetables was still good and that obesity is now a risk factor in cancer.

Yinka Ebo of Cancer Research UK said: "There are many things we can do to lower our chances of developing cancer such as not smoking, keeping a healthy weight, cutting down on alcohol, eating a healthy balanced diet, being physically active and staying safe in the sun."

 

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