Today, experts at the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) welcomed preliminary results from two ongoing investigations into the links between diet and cancer.
Scientists working on two different cohort studies, the NIH-AARP Diet and Health Study and the Hawaii Multiethnic Cohort Study, which track the diets and cancer rates of large groups of participants, announced new results at a cancer research conference in Los Angeles over the weekend.
In one study, eating more fruits and vegetables was associated with lower risk of head and neck cancers. In the other study, diets high in one specific type of compound that occurs in onions, apples and certain other plant foods were associated with lower risk for pancreatic cancer.
These new findings should be considered preliminary because they haven't yet been published in peer-reviewed journals, but they come from well-established cohort studies with proven track records.
"If these new results hold up after the review process, they will represent major contributions to our understanding of the diet-cancer connection," said AICR Nutrition Advisor Karen Collins, RD. "Both studies reinforce AICR standing advice, based on years of research, to consume a diet high in a variety of plant foods for optimal protection against cancer."
The NIH-AARP Diet and Health Study
In one set of results, from a survey of over 500,000 members of the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), men and women over 50 who ate the most fruits and vegetables had less head and neck cancers (most of which arise in the tissues lining the mouth, nose and throat) than those who rarely ate those foods.
Five years ago, participants in the NIH-AARP study filled out a detailed survey about their food intake. Since that time, researchers have been keeping track of cancer incidence within this large cohort.
Those participants who reported eating six servings of vegetables and fruits for every 1000 calories they consumed in a given day had 29 percent less risk than those who ate just 1 and a half servings per 1000 calories they consumed per day.