A diverse vegetable diet may decrease lung cancer risk for smokers


  • Carrie Printz

Researchers have discovered more evidence to support a diet high in fruits and vegetables. A recent study reported that eating a variety of vegetables appears to decrease the risk of getting lung cancer, while eating a variety of fruits and vegetables may decrease the risk of developing squamous cell lung cancer, particularly among smokers.

Using data from the ongoing European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) study, researchers evaluated 452,187 patients,1613 of whom were diagnosed with lung cancer. Information was reviewed for 14 commonly eaten fruits and 26 commonly eaten vegetables, including fresh, canned, and dried products. Investigators found that the risk of lung cancer decreased when a variety of vegetables were eaten, regardless of the amount. Meanwhile, the risk of squamous cell carcinoma decreased substantially when a variety of fruit and vegetables were eaten.

“Fruits and vegetables contain many different bioactive compounds, and it makes sense to assume that it is important you not only eat the recommended amounts but also consume a rich mix of these bioactive compounds,” said coauthor H. Bas Bueno-de-Mesquita, MD, MPH, PhD, senior scientist and project director of cancer epidemiology at the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment in the Netherlands, in a news release issued by the American Association of Cancer Research.

Researchers caution, however, that the only proven way to reduce lung cancer risk is to avoid all forms of tobacco.