Cruciferous vegetables and other Vegetables and Fruits Fight Lung Cancer

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Lung cancer is one of the worst forms of cancer, which causes about 90,000 deaths a year in the USA alone. About 85% of lung cancer deaths occur in smokers, and about 15% in non-smokers.  Besides smoking, exposure to radon gas and combustion products such as wood, leaf or trash smoke can also increase risk of lung cancer.  Quitting smoking at any age significantly reduces risk of lung cancer and other cancers.  

Millions of people have successfully quit smoking, sometimes after making several tries. However, eating a diet rich in a wide range of fruits and vegetables can also significantly reduce risk of lung cancer.  Eating cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and cabbage may be especially useful in preventing lung cancer.

A recent study now in press in BMC Cancer examined the relationships between eating fruits and vegetables and risk of lung cancer.  A total of 948 cases and 1,743 controls were used . Results were adjusted for smoking status.  A fruit or vegetable serving equals about one cup.  Results were as follows: Subjects who consumed 3.7 or more servings of vegetables daily had only 0.53 (53%) times the rate of lung cancer as those who consumed 1.5 or fewer servings of vegetables per day. Subjects who consumed 2.4 or more servings of fruits daily had only 0.70 (70%) times the rate of lung cancer as those who consumed 0.7 or fewer servings of fruit daily.  Those who consumed 0.7 or more servings of cruciferous vegetables daily had 0.59(59%) the rate of lung cancer as those who consumed less than 0.17 servings of cruciferous vegetables daily. All of these analyses were very statistically significant.

Cruciferous vegetables include broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, kale, cabbage, bok choy, and radish. Cruciferous vegetables are so named since they have cross shaped flowers. Cruciferous vegetables are rich in many vitamins (especially vitamins A and C), minerals, and helpful phytochemicals such as sulforaphane. Sulforaphane has strong cancer-fighting properties and also helps boost the immune system and control blood sugar in diabetics. Sulforaphane is found in especially high levels in broccoli and broccoli sprouts. Both human and animals studies report that regular consumption of cruciferous vegetables can reduce risk of many cancers (Clarke 2008).

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