While it’s best to quit smoking, or even better never to start in the first place, medical researchers are actively seeking approaches to prevent lung cancer in smokers.  A recent online article, published on August 31, 2010 in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention found that smokers that ate a wide variety of vegetables had a lower incidence of lung cancer.


This large study was a collaboration of European researchers a diet consisting revealed the finding of a large collaboration of European researchers and is probably one of the first to  measure the  effect of diversity rather than quantity of fruit and vegetable consumption in lung cancer risk.


Frederike L. Buchner of the National Institute of Public Health and the Environment in the Netherlands and colleagues evaluated data from 452,187 participants in the ongoing European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) study.  Diet and lifestyle questionnaires provided intake information on 14 commonly consumed fruits and 26 vegetables. 


Over an average of almost 9 years (8.7) years of follow-up, 1,613 subjects were diagnosed with lung cancer.  The team found  a lower lung cancer risk associated with intake of a greater variety of vegetables among current smokers, and a reduction in the risk of squamous cell carcinoma of the lung associated with increased variety of vegetable and fruit intake, also mainly in smokers. 


H. Bas Bueno-de-Mesquita, MD, MPH, PhD, who is project director of cancer epidemiology at the Netherlands’ National Institute for Public Health and the Environment, remarked that “they cannot exclude that these results can still be explained by smoking.”


“Although quitting smoking is the most important preventive action in reducing lung cancer risk, consuming a mix of different types of fruit and vegetables may also reduce risk, independent of the amount, especially among smokers” he added.  “Fruits and vegetables contain many different bioactive compounds, and it makes sense to assume that it is important that you not only eat the recommended amounts, but also consume a rich mix of these bioactive compounds by consuming a large variety.”