Veggies slow spread, but not start, of colon cancer

June 25, 2002 in Cancer Prevention, Gastrointestinal Health, Nutrition Topics in the News

Veggies slow spread, but not start, of colon cancer

New research suggests that eating relatively high levels of fruits and vegetables appears unlikely to prevent the development of polyps, the initially harmless growths in the intestine that can eventually develop into colon cancer.

Previous studies of vegetable intake and colon cancer have found that eating fruits and vegetables can reduce the risk of the disease. But while eating well may not reduce the risk of developing polyps, it may stop potentially dangerous polyps from becoming cancer, say researchers from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, Washington.

The team investigated the link between eating fruits and vegetables and the development of new polyps in 564 people who had polyps, 682 people who had been screened for polyps and were found polyp-free, and 535 people who did not know whether they had polyps. They found that neither the types nor the total amount of fruits and vegetables affected the number of polyps people developed.

However, there did appear to be a relationship between the amount of juice women drank and their chances of developing polyps. Women who drank the most juice were half as likely to develop polyps as those who drank the least.

The investigators attribute the benefits of juice to the fact that most people drink orange juice, which contributes to the amount of folate people consume, a B vitamin linked with colon cancer protection. Previous studies have shown that higher folate intake can reduce the risk of developing polyps.

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