We’ve long believed that a diet rich in fruits and vegetables offers protection against colon (as well as many other) cancers and certainly these foods have been know to aid having a healthy digestive system. But a recent study published in The Journal of the American Dietetic Association suggests that different fruits and vegetables might be site-specific in their anti-cancer properties. Researchers believe this might help explain inconsistent results from other studies which sought to examine the effects of plant foods against colon cancer.
For the study, Lin Fritschi, PhD and colleagues at the University of Western Australia compared 918 colorectal cancer patients to 1,021 controls who had no history of the disease. Questionnaires completed by the participants were analyzed for the frequency of consumption of 38 different vegetables and fruits.
The researchers found a protective effect for increased intake of brassica vegetables, including broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and Brussels sprouts, against cancer of the proximal section of the colon. Total fruit and vegetable intake, total vegetable intake, and the consumption of dark yellow vegetables and apples were associated with a reduction in distal colon cancer risk.
"It may be that some of the confusion about the relationship between diet and cancer risk is due to the fact that previous studies did not take site of the colorectal cancer into account”, says Professor Fritschi, who is the head of the Epidemiology Group at the Western Australian Institute for Medical Research. “The replication of these findings in large prospective studies may help determine whether a higher intake of vegetables is a means for reducing the risk of distal colorectal cancer."
It is important to note that while apple consumption was protective against rectal cancer, consuming a high amount of fruit juice was associated with a greater risk of the disease. The authors note that "Fruit juice may have similar composition to fruit with respect to a range of phytochemicals, but it is low in fiber and some fruit juices contain added sugar. In addition, there is some evidence to suggest that foods containing high amounts of sugars may increase risk of colorectal cancer.”
To read the full text of the study, click here: http://www.adajournal.org/article/S0002-8223%2811%2901215-6
Beyond the findings of this study, there are many other benefits to eating a diet high in fruits and vegetables. Mainly, it helps create a healthy digestive system, can increase energy levels and keep the entire body running smoothly. So make sure you get enough fruits and vegetables every day. Your body will thank you.