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More fruit and veg confusion

by Henry Scowcroft | Analysis

18 July 2007

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Fruit & VegYesterday it was grapefruit causing breast cancer. Today, fruit and veg don’t prevent it from coming back.

But what about ‘five-a-day’? Confused? We don’t blame you.

Let’s have a quick summary of what the research found, and what it means for the individual.

The study looked at a few thousand women who had had breast cancer. The women spanned a large age range and so included both pre- and post- menopausal women. Half of them were asked to eat the US Government’s daily recommended amount of fruit and veg. The other half consumed twice this amount, and slightly less fat.

All the women were followed for, on average, seven years. At the end of the study there was no significant difference between the two groups of either the number of women who’s cancer came back, nor the number who died.

In our opinion, this was entirely to be expected.

There is very little evidence to support the idea that what a woman eats after she’s had cancer directly affects her risk of the disease coming back.

What little data we do have, suggests that keeping a healthy bodyweight after the post-menopause, and maintaining an active lifestyle, seem to have a small but significant effect on breast cancer recurrence.

So what does this mean for the ‘five-a-day’ message? Very little. Although fruit and veg seem to have no effect on breast cancer recurrence, there is a large amount of evidence that five-a-day can help lower the risk of many other cancers, including mouth cancer, bowel cancer, and stomach cancer.

Keep eating those greens, folks.