Bananas, root veggies, cabbage may prevent kidney cancer

January 26, 2005 in Cancer Prevention, Nutrition Topics in the News

Bananas, root veggies, cabbage may prevent kidney cancer

People who like their bananas, carrots and beets may have a lower risk of developing kidney cancer than those who turn their noses up at the foods, a large Swedish study suggests.

Some past studies, though not all, have shown that diets rich in fruits and vegetables may help stave off kidney cancer. These new findings, based on dietary information from 61,000 Swedish women, narrow in on certain foods -- namely, bananas, root vegetables, salad greens and cabbage -- that may confer such a benefit.

The study found that a high overall intake of fruits and vegetables was related to a lower risk of kidney cancer, though the effect was not significant in statistical terms. There were, however, significant effects when it came to certain foods.  Women who ate bananas four to six times a week, for example, had about half the risk of kidney cancer as those who did not eat the fruit. Regular consumption of root vegetables, including carrots and beets, was linked to a 50 percent to 65 percent decrease in risk.

Research has uncovered a number of risk factors for kidney cancer-- including smoking, obesity, high blood pressure and occupational exposure to certain chemicals, such as asbestos and cadmium. But studies on diet have been inconsistent.
The new study is the largest to show an association between kidney cancer and fruit and vegetable intake, according to researchers at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm.

This study adds to the body of research by suggesting that it's the consumption of particular foods, rather than total fruit and vegetable intake, that may matter. Besides bananas and root vegetables, white cabbage and "salad vegetables," including lettuce and cucumber, were linked to a lower cancer risk.  There were a number of fruits the study did not consider because of their lack of popularity in the study population; these included peaches, plums, grapes and berries.

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