Remember the government’s advice to eat at least five servings of fruits and vegetables a day to lower your risk of cancer? Well, times change. A huge nine-year study of diet and cancer, involving nearly a half-million Europeans in 10 countries, finds only a very weak association between intake of fruits and vegetables and cancer incidence. The study is in the current issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.
Those who get an extra two servings of fruits and veggies a day lower their cancer risk by only four percent. A decade or so ago, leading experts thought the five-a-day regimen would reduce overall cancer risk by as much as 50 to 70 percent. In the 1990s scientists were so sure the approach would prevent cancer the World Health Organization and the National Cancer Institute launched the five-a-day bandwagon. The U.S. government partnered with the food industry to mount a major campaign, called 5-A-Day for Better Health, to prevent cancer. It’s still in the cancer-prevention goals of Healthy People 2010, though the message is blurred by wrapping it with smoking cessation. ”It is estimated that as much as 50 percent or more of cancer can be prevented through smoking cessation and improved dietary habits, such as reducing fat consumption and increasing fruit and vegetable consumption,” say the government’s Healthy People 2010 goals.
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