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For Immediate Release: April 19, 2010

In the News: Does an Apple (or Two) a Day Keep Cancer Away?

For Immediate Release: April 19, 2010
Contact: Mya Nelson 202-328-7744 x247

In the News:
Does an Apple (or Two) a Day Keep Cancer Away?

WASHINGTON, DC – New results from the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer (EPIC) study, which involves nearly half a million subjects in ten different European countries, suggest that fruit and vegetable intake does seem protective against cancer.

In the study, every two portions of vegetables and fruit consumed per day were associated with a 2.5% lower risk of cancer. The study was published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

The study is making headlines because of that 2.5% figure, which has been dubbed “relatively weak” protection. But according to Susan Higginbotham, RD, PhD, Director of Research at the American Institute for Cancer Research, no one should greet this news as an excuse to return to the meat-and-potatoes mindset their parents and grandparents embraced.

“We’ve known for some time that fruit and vegetable intake is probably protective against some, but not all cancers,” she said. “So when you look at its effect against all cancers, as this study does, those overall numbers are going to look low.”

But Higginbotham pointed out that those study participants who were eating the most fruits and vegetables – 6 or more servings per day – had an 11% lower risk of all cancers than those who ate the least. “At the end of the day, that’s a significant decrease associated with eating the recommended amount vegetables and fruits,” she said.

Higginbotham and her colleagues at AICR caution that this new study is no reason to toss your salad aside.

Three Key Points

1. The Cancer Protection is Small, But It’s There
If even the modest strength of the protection observed in this study holds true in the US population, the potential benefits remain impressive: If everyone ate just 2 more portions of fruits and vegetables every day, we’d experience 2.5% fewer cancers – that’s about 37,000 US cases every year.

The study’s authors took pains to point out that the observed protective effect, though small, is real: “Our study supports the notion of a modest cancer preventive effect of high intake of fruits and vegetables and we can exclude chance as a likely factor.”

2. Not All Cancers Are Alike
The AICR/WCRF expert report found probable evidence linking fruits and vegetable consumption to cancers of the mouth, pharynx and larynx, stomach, esophagus and lung (fruits only). The strength of protection that diets high in fruits and vegetables provide against these cancers is likely much higher than 2.5%.

3. Fruits and Vegetables Belong at the Center of the Plate
People who eat plenty of fruits and vegetables are less likely to become overweight. Scientists now say that, after not smoking, maintaining a healthy weight is the most important thing you can do for cancer prevention.



The American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) is the cancer charity that fosters research on the relationship of nutrition, physical activity and weight management to cancer risk, interprets the scientific literature and educates the public about the results. It has contributed more than $95 million for innovative research conducted at universities, hospitals and research centers across the country. AICR has published two landmark reports that interpret the accumulated research in the field, and is committed to a process of continuous review. AICR also provides a wide range of educational programs to help millions of Americans learn to make dietary changes for lower cancer risk. Its award-winning New American Plate program is presented in brochures, seminars and on its website, www.aicr.org. AICR is a member of the World Cancer Research Fund International.

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