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According to a recent article published in the Journal of the American Medical Association

(JAMA), increased intake of phytoestrogens through dietary sources (not supplements) significantly reduces the risk of developing lung cancer.

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related deaths annually in the US. In addition to smoking cessation, researchers continue to evaluate possible ways in which individuals can reduce their risk of developing this deadly disease. Possible associations with diet and the development of various cancers has been an intense area of research. Previous studies have indicated that a high intake of fruit and vegetables may be of benefit in the prevention of cancers or even in reducing the risk of a cancer recurrence.

Researchers recently conducted a clinical study to further evaluate a possible association between dietary intake and the risk of developing lung cancer. This study included 1,674 individuals who had been diagnosed with lung cancer and 1,735 individuals who were healthy. Intake of phytoestrogens, which are molecules found in plants, was significantly associated with the risk of developing lung cancer.

  • Individuals with the highest intake of phytoestrogens from food sources had a 46% reduced risk of lung cancer compared to those with the lowest intake.
  • Benefits of high phytoestrogen intake were evident in groups of individuals who had never smoked as well as those who were current smokers; this benefit was not as evident in former smokers.

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The researchers concluded that high levels of phytoestrogen intake from food sources significantly decreases the risk of developing lung cancer in both individuals who have never smoked as well as those who currently smoke. Individuals at a high risk of developing lung cancer may wish to consider a diet high in plant resources, such as vegetables, soy, legumes, and fruit.

Reference: Schabath M, Hernandez L, Wu X, et al. Dietary Phytoestrogens and Lung Cancer Risk. Journal of the American Medical Association. 2005;294:1493-1504.

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