Vegetables Might Not Prevent Cancer Vegetables Might Not Prevent Cancer

Vegetables Might Not Prevent Cancer

by Siobhan O'Connor

April 10, 2010
But wait. They're still really, really good for you, and there is still a lot of evidence of their illness-fighting potential as a food group, and there is still a lot of evidence that specific vegetables do, in fact, have cancer-fighting potential. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

A new study published recently in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute (abstract here) looked at the diets of 478,000 Europeans and seemed to show that consuming lots of fruits and vegetables doesn't prevent cancer after all. (There are respected studies saying they lower heart disease and high blood pressure, though.)

A few points: The study doesn't mean that the proven and potent anti-cancer powers of specific vegetables (and fruits) has been debunked; the study also looked at people who just ate a lot of vegetables as adults, so the cumulative preventive effects over the course of a person's life, are not measured here. Still, as we keep learning that more and more cancers are not genetic but environmental, it's useful to get a good sense of what kinds of prevention work and don't.

Studies like this always get me a little rattled because of the potential for shocking headlines (see above) that don't really get at the heart of what there is to learn. Like, it's obvious that eating vegetables, whether to prevent cancer and heart disease or just because they're delicious, is a good thing for everyone's health. They're a whole-food way of getting lots of the nutrients, fiber, vitamins, and antioxidants that make our bodies work well and make us feel good.

(CC) by Flickr User Funadium
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Vegetables Might Not Prevent Cancer