Carotenoids in fruit, vegetables protect from lung cancer

October 17, 2000 in Cancer Prevention, Nutrition Topics in the News

Carotenoids in fruit, vegetables protect from lung cancer

Eating fruits and vegetables may also reduce a person's risk of lung cancer. Researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health looked at whether carotenoids, chemicals found in fruits and vegetables, can reduce the risk of lung cancer.

Since carotenoids have antioxidant properties that allow them to protect cells from oxygen damage, researchers reasoned that they might be able to protect against lung cancer. Over the course of 10 years, researchers analyzed 275 cases of lung cancer in men and 519 cases in women over a 12-year period. Researchers looked at the carotenoid intake of the individuals based on a questionnaire of their fruit and vegetable consumption. They specifically looked at the intakes of alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, lutein, lycopene and beta-cryptoxanthin.

Researchers found alpha-carotene and lycopene intakes were significantly associated with a lower risk of lung cancer. The other carotenoids resulted in a decrease in lung cancer, but not a significant amount.

Researchers conclude that the overall intake of carotenoid-rich foods does lower lung cancer risk. A diet high in these foods, including carrots and tomato-based products, may offer some benefit, particularly to non-smokers. Because most lung cancer happens to those who smoke, researchers conclude that quitting smoking is by far the best way to reduce the incidence of lung cancer.

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