A UK study undertaken in the late 1930s suggests that adults who ate the most fruit as youngsters have a lower risk for cancer than those who ate the least fruit when they were kids.
But the researchers found no tie between consumption of vegetables in youth and later cancer risk, which they say could be attributed to cooking preferences of the time.
Researchers from the MRC Social and Public Health Sciences Unit in London looked at nearly 4,000 people who had taken part in a 1937-1939 study of family diet and health conducted in England and Scotland. All were children at the time of the study.
During the follow-up period, which ended in 2000, 483 people were diagnosed with some type of cancer.
When the team examined the amount of fruits, vegetables and the antioxidants vitamin C, vitamin E and beta carotene the adults had consumed as children they found that those who had eaten the most fruit were 38% less likely to develop cancer than those who ate the least.
Fruits are rich in many nutrients in addition to vitamins and antioxidants, the researchers note, and may be more protective than antioxidants alone.
The reason no association was found between vegetables--which are also chock full of compounds that may protect against cancer--may be because at the time of the study people preferred to cook vegetables for a long time, which can destroy many of the nutrients they contain.
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