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Do fruit and vegetables prevent cancer?



April 2010

A new study in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute has looked at whether fruit and vegetables are protective against cancers. The study found only a “weakly protective effect” against cancer.

Fruit and vegetables are high in nutrients that are potentially protective against cancer. They also play an important role in weight management.

Obesity is a convincing risk factor for cancer of the colorectum, kidney, pancreas, oesophagus, endometrium and breast (in post-menopausal women), so fruit and vegetables may also protect against cancer indirectly by helping to maintain a healthy body weight.

Although there has been a slight weakening of the evidence supporting the role of fruit and vegetables in reducing the risk of some cancers, overall the evidence is suggestive of a protective effect. Fruit and vegetables appear to protect against cancers of the digestive tract, such as cancer of the mouth, pharynx, larynx, oesophagus, stomach and colorectum. Fruit may also protect against lung cancer.

Cancer Council supports the Australian Dietary Guidelines that recommend eating plenty of fruit and vegetables, and the population recommendation of at least two serves of fruit and five serves of vegetables daily.

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This page was last updated on: Friday, June 14, 2013