Italian researchers have found another good reason to eat more fruits and vegetables--the fiber may prevent cancer of the larynx.
Laryngeal cancer is diagnosed in approximately 10,000 Americans every year, and surgery to remove the cancer often results in complete removal of the larynx, or "voice box."
Scientists from the Istituto di Ricerche Farmacologiche in Milan, Italy, compared the eating habits of 527 people with laryngeal cancer to nearly 1,300 hospital patients who were cancer-free.
They found that diets higher in fruits and vegetables were associated with a lower risk of cancer. Fruits and vegetables were associated with a lower risk of laryngeal cancer, but fiber sources from grain alone were unrelated to cancer risk.
The researchers suggest that the reason for the "lack of protection of grain fiber on laryngeal cancer risk could be that it comes mostly from refined cereal, highly consumed in the population studied." The researchers say the starch in these grains could potentially "overwhelm any possible protective action of fiber."
Exactly how fiber lowers the risk for laryngeal cancer is unclear.
The researchers say fiber intake might also be correlated with a healthier lifestyle. When people eat more fruits and vegetables, they often replace fats, proteins and refined grains.
Possibly, the protective effect could be due to a combination with other micronutrients (such as vitamin C and beta carotene) that are found in fruits and vegetables.
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