Vegetables, Fruit Cut Pancreatic Cancer Risk

These healthy diets reduced risk by 50 percent, study found

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THURSDAY, Sept. 15, 2005 (HealthDay News) -- Diets rich in fruits and vegetables are associated with a 50 percent reduced risk of deadly pancreatic cancer, researchers report.

"Pancreatic cancer is not nearly as common as breast or lung cancer, but its diagnosis and treatment are particularly difficult," senior researcher Elizabeth A. Holly, a professor of epidemiology and biostatistics at the University of California, San Francisco, said in a prepared statement. "Finding strong confirmation that simple life choices can provide significant protection from pancreatic cancer may be one of the most practical ways to reduce the incidence of this dreadful disease."

Onions, garlic, beans, yellow vegetables (carrots, yams, sweet potatoes, corn and yellow squash), dark leafy vegetables and cruciferous vegetables were most strongly associated with protection against pancreatic cancer, the researchers found. Fruit was also found to offer a protective effect, but much less so than vegetables. Citrus fruits and juices were the most protective fruits.

This 50 percent reduced risk of pancreatic cancer was associated with eating at least five servings per day of the protective vegetables and fruit, compared with eating two servings or less a day, the study said. Eating nine servings a day of vegetables and fruit was associated with about a 50 percent reduced risk of pancreatic cancer, compared with eating less than five servings a day.

A serving is considered to be: about a half cup of cooked vegetables; two cups of leafy salad; or one medium-sized piece of fruit.

The findings appear in the current issue of Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers and Prevention and are based on interviews with 532 pancreatic cancer patients and more than 1,700 randomly selected people in the San Francisco area.

Pancreatic cancer kills about 300,000 people in the United States each year. Five-year survival is less than 4 percent. The disease is difficult to diagnose and largely untreatable.

More information

The U.S. National Cancer Institute has more about pancreatic cancer.

SOURCE: University of California, San Francisco, news release, Sept. 15, 2005

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