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Aug 2010 Combining fruits and vegetables reduces the risk of lung cancer


Lung cancer currently ranks as the leading cause of cancer related death in men and women. Factors that influence risk of developing lung cancer may include smoking, chronic lung diseases, radon, asbestos, and family history of lung cancer. Treatment can involve surgical removal of the cancer, chemotherapy or radiation therapy, as well as combinations of these treatments. The overall prognosis for lung cancer is poor when compared with other type of cancer, and survival rates are generally low, with an overall five-year survival rate of about 16%.

There is a general opinion that smoking cessation is the most important measure that can prevent the development of lung cancer. However, as it has been shown in a publication of the American Association for Cancer Research, fruit and vegetable consumption may decrease lung cancer risk as well. And it is not just the quantity but also the variety and combination of fruits and vegetables that contributes [1]. Therefore, in fighting cancer it is important to adopt a range of measures which have beneficial impacts on your health.


Main text:
Previously, inverse association between the quantity of fruit and vegetable consumption (grams/day) and lung cancer risk and its histologic subtypes were detected [2]. Besides, it has been shown that consumption of vegetables and fruits in active smokers may reduce lung cancer risk, in particular the risk of squamous cell carcinoma [2].


Results of a study published in the medical journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention suggest that alongside with the quantity, the variety in fruits and vegetable consumption might reduce lung cancer risk [1]. In this study the team of researches gathered data from the ongoing, multi-centered EPIC (European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition) study, including 452,187 individuals of whom 1,613 had been diagnosed with lung cancer. The fruits and vegetables assessed in the EPIC study consisted of a wide range of fresh, canned or dried products. Results showed that with increasing variety in vegetable sources, risk of lung cancer decreases. This inverse association was most evident in case of current smokers, and especially lower risks were observed for squamous cell carcinomas when fruit and vegetable products were combined.


Different fruits and vegetables contain different bioactive compounds. A greater variety in fruit and vegetable consumption therefore represents a more varied intake of these substances. Alternatively, the consumption of many different kinds of fruits and vegetables makes it more likely to consume specific bioactive compounds that might reduce cancer risk.

By: Svetlana Obradovic and Luuk Simons

[1] Büchner F. L., H. B. Bueno-de-Mesquita, M. R. Martine, K. Overvad,  et.al. (2010). Variety in Fruit and Vegetable Consumption and the Risk of Lung Cancer in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. pp. 2278–86.



[2] Büchner F. L., H. B. Bueno-de-Mesquita, J. Linseisen, et al. (2010). Fruits and vegetables consumption and the risk of histological subtypes of lung cancer in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC). Cancer Causes Control 21 pp. 357–71.


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