Vegetables Reduce Kidney Cancer Risk
Eating vegetables and taking some nutritional supplements can reduce the risk of renal cell carcinoma (RCC), reports a new study in Cancer Causes and Control (2003;14:705–14).
RCC is the most common form of kidney cancer. Although the incidence of RCC is relatively low, evidence suggests that it is increasing. One large review of the research literature concluded that approximately 32% of all cancers could be prevented through dietary changes, and several recent studies have found a link between diet and risk of RCC. An increased risk of RCC has been noted in people who consume high amounts of red meat, fried meat, sautéed meat, poultry, dairy products, margarine, and oils, while a reduced risk has been noted with high consumption of vegetables and fruits.
In the current study, diet and supplement use in 1,279 people with RCC were compared with those of 5,370 people who had never had cancer. Information about lifestyle, dietary habits, and weight changes over the previous two years and use of vitamin and mineral supplements was collected through questionnaires completed by both groups. People reporting the highest vegetable and vegetable juice intake were 30% less likely to have RCC than those reporting the lowest intake. In women, the vegetables that were most closely associated with reduced risk of RCC were dark greens and cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage, kale, and cauliflower. In contrast, people reporting the highest intake of hamburger and sausage were 40 to 50% more likely to have RCC than people reporting the lowest intake of these foods. Supplementation with vitamin E for more than five years was associated with a lower risk of RCC in both women and men; furthermore, a reduced risk of RCC was observed in men taking iron supplements and women taking calcium supplements for more than five years. Significant protective effects from taking zinc, vitamin C, and B-complex vitamins were also noted in women.
The results of this study suggest that eating large amounts of vegetables might protect against RCC. They further suggest that eating large amounts of meats might increase the risk of RCC. These results are consistent with those of most other studies examining the role of diet on risk of RCC. Some studies have found that high intake of fruits also has a protective effect. The risk of eating too much meat and not consuming enough vegetables and fruits needs to be re-emphasized, in view of the popularity of the Atkins diet and other high-protein, high-meat diets. The role of nutritional supplements in protecting against RCC needs further investigation.
Maureen Williams, ND, received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania and her Doctorate of Naturopathic Medicine from Bastyr University in Seattle, WA. She has a private practice in Quechee, VT, and does extensive work with traditional herbal medicine in Guatemala and Honduras. Dr. Williams is a regular contributor to Healthnotes Newswire.
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