Earth Eats: Real Food, Green Living

New Study: Eating Veggies Does Not (Really) Reduce Cancer Risk

A new study shows that despite other health benefits, eating plenty of vegetables does not necessarily reduce your cancer risk.

Heart-shaped tomato

Photo: Andrea_R (flickr)

Eating plenty of vegetables is great for cardiovascular health.

Do vegetables have cancer-fighting powers?

Popular wisdom in recent years — even supported by the American Cancer Society — has been that a diet high in fruits and vegetables helps to prevent cancer.

But a new study published this week in The Journal of the National Cancer Institute found that this claim is not necessarily true.

Nearly 480,000 men and women were studied over a period of 9 years, and while high vegetable consumption among the test subjects did cause a small reduction in the risk for cancer, the reduction was only an average of 4% for every two veggie servings per day.

The authors of the study say that the weak connection between vegetable consumption and reduced cancer risk could also be attributed to the subjects’ overall habits: People who eat a lot of veggies, they contend, are also less likely to smoke or drink heavily.

They’re Still Good For You!

But that doesn’t mean vegetables don’t have any health benefits.

According to another study published in 2004, a diet high in vegetables — green leafy vegetables in particular — does a great job in reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke.

Pass the salad, please!

Megan Meyer

Megan Meyer was in the company of foodies for most of her formative years. She spent all of her teens working at her town's natural food co-op in South Dakota, and later when she moved to Minneapolis, worked as a produce maven for the nation's longest running collectively-managed food co-op. In 2006, she had the distinct pleasure (and pain) of participating the vendanges, or grape harvest, in the Beaujolais terroire of France, where she developed her compulsion to snip off grape clusters wherever they may hang. In the spring of 2008, Megan interned on NPR's Science Desk in Washington, D.C., where she aided in the coverage of science, health and food policy stories. She joined Indiana Public Media in June, 2009.

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