The Fruit and Vegetable Factor
Pancreatic cancer is one of the most deadly types of cancer in the U.S. today, killing an estimated 300,000 people each year. Not much is known about the primary cause of this disease and even less is known about how to prevent it. A recent study suggests that increasing the consumption of certain fruits and vegetables might be the best way of reducing the risk of pancreatic cancer, and that the more fruits and vegetables consumed, the lower the risk of developing the disease.
The study compared the eating habits of 532 cases (people diagnosed with pancreatic cancer) with 1,701 age- and sex-matched healthy controls (people without pancreatic cancer). An analysis of the subjects' eating habits showed that consuming at least five servings per day of "protective" vegetables was associated with a 55-percent reduced risk of pancreatic cancer, compared with eating two servings or less daily. A high consumption of "protective" fruit and fruit juices also reduced the risk of pancreatic cancer by 28 percent. Onions, beans, garlic, carrots, yams, sweet potatoes, corn, dark and leafy vegetables, cruciferous vegetables, citrus fruits and fruit juices appeared to provide the best protection. (The graph on the front page of this issue shows specific relative risk values based on fruit/vegetable consumption by the subject population.)
Increasing fruit and vegetable intake typically is recommended to help prevent numerous chronic diseases, including diabetes, hypertension and obesity. The results of this study suggest pancreatic cancer is the latest disease to add to that list. So, what are you waiting for? Tell your patients to get their five servings (at least) of fruit and vegetables every day!
- Chan JM, Wang F, Holly E. Vegetable and fruit intake and pancreatic cancer in a population-based case-control study in the San Francisco Bay area. Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers and Prevention, Sept. 2005;14:2093-2097.