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Cruciferous vegetables prevent many cancers - review study

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By David Liu, PHD

Sunday Sept 30, 2012 (foodconsumer.org) -- A review study in Annals of Oncology suggests that eating lots of cruciferous vegetables can significantly reduce risk of developing many types of cancer including oral cancer, esophageal cancer, colorectal cancer, breast cancer and kidney cancer.

Epidemiological studies have shown that eating cruciferous vegetables was associated with reduced risk for a number of cancers, but not all studies were consistent. 

Dr C. Bosetti1 at Istituto di Ricerche Farmacologiche ‘Mario Negri’ in Milan, Italy and colleagues conducted the current meta-analysis of data from multiple case-control studies conducted in Italy and Switzerland to examine the association between consumption of cruciferous vegetables and risk of multiple cancers.

The meta-analysis included "1468 cancers of the oral cavity/pharynx, 505 of the esophagus, 230 of the stomach, 2390 of the colorectum, 185 of the liver, 326 of the pancreas, 852 of the larynx, 3034 of the breast, 367 of the endometrium, 1031 of the ovary, 1294 of the prostate, 767 of the kidney, and 11 492 controls."   Both cancer patients and controls were accepted in the same network of hospitals for treatments and controls were admitted for a wide range of acute non-neoplastic health conditions.

Compared to men and women who ate no cruciferous vegetables, those who ate  cruciferous vegetables at least once a week cut their risk of cancer of the oral cavity/pharynx by 17%, esophageal cancer by 28%, colorectal cancer by 17%, breast cancer by 17%, and kidney cancer by 32 %. 

In addition, eating cruciferous vegetables, compared to eating no cruciferous vegetables, cut risk of stomach cancer by 10%, pancreatic cancer by 10%, laryngeal cancer  by 16%,  endometrial cancer by 7%, ovarian cancer by 9%, and prostate cancer by 13%. But these risk reductions are not statistically significant.

The researchers concluded "This large series of studies provides additional evidence of a favorable effect of cruciferous vegetables on several common cancers."

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