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It has been long debated whether the quantity of fruits and vegetables ingested is associated with cancer risk. A new article brings the results of a multi-national, prospective European study, based on the EPIC cohort, which examined this issue in 143,000 men and 336,000 women who were followed for 8.7 years [1]. Dietary habits were estimated by questionnaires only once, at enrolment to the study. A total of 9600 men and 21,000 women were diagnosed with cancer during the follow-up period. The intake of fruits and vegetables was higher in Southern Europe than in Northern Europe: 231 g/day in Sweden, 511 g/day in Spain. Overall, quintile 5 of vegetable intake (> 307 g/day) was associated with a statistically significant 7% reduced risk for total cancer compared to quintile 1 (< 97 g/day). The corresponding figure for fruits was a 6% reduction in cancer risk in quintile 5 (> 367 g/day) compared to quintile 1 (< 90 g/day). Each increase of 100 g/day of total fruit and vegetable intake led to a 2% decreased risk for cancer. Note that the crude cancer rates differed from country to country, but the risk was comparable in men and women.


  • Amos Pines
    Department of Medicine T, Ichilov Hospital, Tel-Aviv, Israel


  1. Boffetta P, Couto E, Wichmann J, et al. Fruit and vegetable intake and overall cancer risk in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC). J Natl Cancer Inst 2010;102:529-37. Published April 21, 2010.
  2. Hung HC, Joshipura KJ, Jiang R, et al. Fruit and vegetable intake and risk of major chronic disease. J Natl Cancer Inst 2004;96:1577-84.
  3. Willett WC. Fruits, vegetables, and cancer prevention: turmoil in the produce section. J Natl Cancer Inst 2010;102:510-11.
  4. Kavanaugh CJ, Trumbo PR, Ellwood KC. The U.S. Food and Drug Administrations evidence-based review for qualified health claims: tomatoes, lycopene, and cancer. J Natl Cancer Inst 2007;99:1074-85.
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