An analysis of dietary data from more than 400,000 men and women found only a weak association between high fruit and vegetable intake and reduced overall cancer risk, according to a study published online in the
Journal of the National Cancer Institute
In 1990, the World Health Association recommended eating five servings of fruit and vegetables a day to prevent cancer and other diseases. But many studies since then have not been able to confirm a definitive association.
Paolo Boffetta of the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York, and colleagues analysed data from the EPIC study (European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition), which included 142,605 men and 335,873 women recruited for the study between 1992 and 2000. The authors found a small inverse association between high intake of fruits and vegetables and reduced overall cancer risk. Vegetable consumption also afforded a modest benefit but was restricted to women.
The authors caution against attributing any risk reduction to diet and they conclude that any cancer protective effect of these foods is likely to be modest, at best.