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Fruit, Veggies Reduced Disease Risk by 60%, in One Study

Just in time for January’s Cervical Health Awareness Month, a new study substantiates the possible protective powers of produce. Previous research has suggested that women who eat the most veggies are 50% less likely to have the kind of persistent infections that can lead to cervical cancer and infertility. Now new data points to a possible 60% lower cervical cancer risk among women with the highest produce intake. The same study found a nearly 70% increased risk among those with the highest intake of animal fat.

Analyzing dietary data for 1,218 women, State University of New York at Buffalo researchers found certain nutrients offered extra protection, including beta-carotene (found in bright orange carrots, cantaloupe and pumpkin), lycopene (found in watermelon, guava and tomatoes), lutein (found in leafy greens like spinach and Romaine), and vitamin C (found in red bell peppers, pineapple and bananas).

Women who ate the least fiber were twice as likely to develop cervical cancer, another reason to load up on those fiber-rich berries, artichokes, beans and pears, which may offer similar protection against breast cancer.

Eating more fruit and veggies — and less fat-laden meats — is women’s best bet against obesity, which doubles the risk of developing cervical adenocarcinoma (a malignant cervical cancer). Both genders will benefit from a more plant-based diet, associated with a lower risk of lung, colorectal and prostate cancer, in ongoing research.

Published January 1, 2009

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