Fruit and Vegetable Consumption Linked with Reduced Risk of Head and Neck Cancer

Fruits and Vegetables Linked with Reduced Risk of Head and Neck Canc

Fruit and Vegetable Consumption Linked with Reduced Risk of Head and Neck Cancer

by Dr. C.D. Buckner M.D. 2011

According to the results of a study presented at the 2007 annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR), increasing your daily intake of fruits and vegetables may reduce your risk of developing head and neck cancer.

Head and neck cancers originate in the throat, larynx (voice box), pharynx, salivary glands, or oral cavity (lip, mouth, tongue). Most head and neck cancers involve squamous cells, which are cells that line the mouth, throat, or other structures. Important risk factors for head and neck cancer include smoking and alcohol use.

Because head and neck cancer is often associated with a decline in quality of life due to side effects of standard therapies as well as with suboptimal outcomes once the cancer has spread from its site of origin, prevention of this cancer is an active area of research.

To assess the relationship between fruit and vegetable intake and risk of head and neck cancer, researchers evaluated information from the NIH-AARP Diet and Health study. The study enrolled more than 490,000 individuals age 50 or older. Over a five-year period, 787 of the study participants developed head and neck cancer.

  • Individuals with higher intake of fruits and vegetables were less likely to develop head and neck cancer. Overall, vegetables appeared to offer more protection than fruit.
  • Plant groups that were linked with a reduced risk of head and neck cancer included leguminosae (string beans, peas, and dried beans); rosaceae (apples, peaches, nectarines, plums, pears, and strawberries); and umbelliferae (carrots).

The researchers conclude that higher intake of fruits and vegetables appears to be linked with a reduced risk of head and neck cancer.

Reference: Freedman ND, Park Y, Subar AF et al. Fruit and vegetable intake and head and neck cancer in a large United States prospective cohort study. Presented at the 2007 annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research, Los Angeles, CA, April 14-18, 2007. Abstract 849.

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