Fruits and vegetables - how important are they in cancer prevention?

Interested consumers can now find tips and recommendations on the topic of nutrition in virtually all media: What can one eat without hesitation, what should one do without? What new findings are there from the scientific side? The abundance and often contradictory nature of the information is now more unsettling than providing clarity. It is therefore all the more important for those responsible for the Five Health Campaign to credibly substantiate the importance and necessity of a high-fruit and vegetable diet. The current state of research has now been compiled by a research group established by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC).

Scientists evaluate current state of research

Based on a defined methodological approach, the evaluation of the IARC was able to make more differentiated statements about the health effects of high fruit and vegetable consumption. While some forms of cancer appear to be independent of eating habits, other fruits and vegetables certainly play a role in the primary prevention of cancer.

"An increase in fruit and vegetable consumption continues to play a crucial role in preventing cancer through nutrition due to the affected cancers", says Professor Dr. med. Heiner Boeing of the German Institute for Nutrition in Rehbrücke (DIFE) and refers to the dietary recommendations of the health campaign 5 a day.

This campaign, also funded by the European Community, recommends consuming 600 grams per day and more fruit and vegetables to prevent cancer, cardiovascular disease and diabetes mellitus.

The results

  • According to the current state of research, a higher intake of fruit is likely to reduce the risk of oesophageal, gastric and lung cancer. On the other hand, a higher intake of vegetables also reduces the risk of esophageal and, in addition, of cancers of the colon and rectum.
  • In addition, the available studies indicate that more fruit may also reduce the risk of oral, pharyngeal, colon, rectal, laryngeal, renal and bladder cancer.
  • On the other hand, increasing the amount of vegetables reduces the risk of developing oral, gastric, laryngeal, lung, ovarian and renal cancer.

The working group estimates that about one in ten cancer cases in the Western world is due to low fruit and vegetable intake. In regions with poorer fruit and vegetable populations, this figure is probably even higher.

And the future?

To ensure better data for the future, the researchers are making an effort to optimize and standardize the study designs. In addition, the biological mechanisms of the interaction of a high-fruit and vegetable-rich diet and the cancer risk would have to be further investigated. It also requires more epidemiological studies, especially from developing countries. How meaningful such large-scale investigations are, the first results of the so-called.

EPIC (European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition) study, which has been running for several years in ten European countries with more than 500, 000 participants. Initial evaluations have shown that increased fruit consumption can reduce the risk of lung cancer by up to 40 percent, while no evidence of a protective effect of fruits and vegetables on the development of prostate cancer is available.

That healthy eating habits and habits can significantly reduce the risk of developing cancer, cardiovascular diseases and diabetes mellitus is now considered proven. Thus, the regular and sufficient consumption of fruits and vegetables can significantly reduce the risk of cancer. This potential in the fight against cancer is many times higher than the early detection or treatment of cancer that has occurred.

Bodyguards for the health

The five-a-day Health Campaign recommends consuming at least five servings of fruit and vegetables daily, equivalent to at least 600 grams. Consumers can choose between fresh and processed fruit and vegetables - including frozen foods and unsweetened preserves - as well as juices, dried fruits and nuts.

Despite this variety of options, some consumers prefer to buy expensive dietary supplements or foods that are fortified with vitamins and other ingredients. For health protection, however, the interplay of as diverse and diverse substances as possible, such as vitamins, minerals, trace elements and phytochemicals and other bioactive substances.

Tips for everyday life

  • Start the day with a glass of juice or a cereal with fruit.
  • In between, grab fruit, crisp vegetable sticks, dried fruit or unroasted nuts.
  • Always eat a portion of salad or vegetables for lunch.
  • Finish off the dinner with a vegetable curd or fresh tomatoes and herbs.
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