Fruits, Veggies don’t reduce Cancer–Imagine that

Don’t you sometimes wonder how I can stand it–all these rules and declarations by nannies and elites that turn out to be nothin’?

If they just keep quiet and stop trying to make a thing out of food.

Food fetishes, and so many other healthy living fetishes are nonsense put up by people who don’t have enough to do.

My advice as an ignorant physician who isn’t up on all the health food hype–eat in moderation a balanced diet and drink alcohol in moderation and excercise to maintain decent conditioning, and control your weight so you don’t blow up like a balloon–does that sound like a nannie?

Aristotle had it–the golden mean. Try not to be too sinful or too righteous.

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12 responses to “Fruits, Veggies don’t reduce Cancer–Imagine that

  1. I’m amused by the article’s author’s horror at the results, and her efforts to rectify the heresy.

    • I will give her props for reporting it honestly. That’s difficult to do when you find yourself in her position.

  2. The old saying from the computer world works for humans and the food they eat. Garbage in garbage out.

  3. “At the same time, these people probably do not drink in excess and they maintain a healthy weight.” – Junk Science statement. “Probably?” Europeans? Really? Which European countries does this article author know that are a bunch of teetotalers?

    According to Wikipedia, the US ranks 57th in alcohol consumption in the world.
    Germany – 23
    France – 15
    Belgium – 35
    Italy – 37
    Ireland – 14
    United Kingdom – 17

    WHICH European Country does she think doesn’t consume more alcohol than the “typical American diet?” I’m wondering if it was mentioned in the study, or if she just pulled it from where the sun doesn’t shine?

    • BTW – “Junk Science statement” was not meant to attribute the statement to JunkScience.Com. I left an edited version of this message on the article’s source site…and was pointing out that her statement was BS.

  4. I would also question her statement the the European diet is high in cereals and fruit. Having lived in Germany for most of the 80′s and early 90′s everywhere I went the food that I saw was not high in cereals and fruit and what was normally severed looked a lot like what we see here in the US which makes sense since we are a European based culture.

  5. All foods (except water and salt) contain radioactive carbon-14, which produces an estimated 10 DNA mutations in a typical human body every 3 SECONDS.
    To avoid the threat of cancer from carbon-14, one option is simply to abstain from food.

  6. “Everything in moderation, including ‘moderation.’” – Oscar Wilde

  7. Of course we all know that DNA mutations are not the cause of cancer, Malignant cell lines are characteristically multiploid, which has to do with malfunction of the replication process. Malignant cell lines invariably have excess amounts of DNA in them and nuclei that are overloaded with genetic material.

    Then if the body fails to recognize the bad cell line and destroy it–woops. Cancer cell line starts to do its badness. .

  8. This looks like a pretty strong study at first glance, will look at it in detail in a bit…

    Full text of the study in question is here:

  9. OK, here’s what I got out of the study on the first detailed read-through.

    A) The study does show a clear (though slight) inverse relationship between the eating of more fruits and vegetables (particularly vegetables) and the lower incidence of cancers. This effect is generally statistically significant (i.e., unlikely to be the result of statistical artifact or random chance), and is primarily seen in those cancers associated with smoking and/or heavier alcohol consumption. While other risk reductions are found in the data, they are not so strong as even the “modest” reductions found in those associated with alcohol and tobacco usage.

    Practical effect: health nuts and nutrition gurus are going to ignore everything else and run with my opening two sentences, and no one is going to be able to sue them successfully for the snake oil salesmen that they are, because unfortunately that is what the data actually show… sort of.

    B) The net reduction in risk of cancer diagnosis (let alone mortality, which was not studied) is so small as to be useless to the average individual. Study data indicate that over the entire population of the study, any given man had ~0.8% chance (if my math is right) to be diagnosed with some form of cancer over the course of a given year, while individual women were closer to ~0.7% odds — rates which varied widely depending on a number of various confounding factors which were controlled for in the results. The greatest protective effect was seen in active smokers and heavy drinkers, who saw up to a 10% reduction in risk for related cancers with an increased intake of fruits and veggies.

    Practical effect: Given a random male individual from this study’s population with a calculated risk of cancer diagnosis of 8% over the next ten years, and given a 10% reduction in risk with a 2.5-fold increase in fruit & vegetable intake, one may calculate an estimated reduction in risk for this person at ~0.8% over that timeframe. In other words, the data indicate that increasing fruit/veg. intake from 200g/d to 500g/d lowers that individual’s net risk of diagnosis from 8% over ten years to 7.2% over the same period. A sample woman’s risk goes from around 7.2% to 6.5%. (Remember: you must have been a smoker or heavy drinker to see this benefit, according to the study.) Looked at still another way, statistically speaking, the average man who spent 129 years in the study (if such a thing were possible) would have had an estimated 100% chance of being diagnosed with cancer once during his time in the study. At best, the increased intake of fruits and veggies would have given him ten more years (to age 139) before reaching that same level of risk, IF he had experienced the same benefit as the smokers and drinkers (which, according to the study, the average man did not).

    The Bottom Line:
    Given a life expectancy of ~75 years for most of us guys here on this board, we’re effectively talking about going from a ~58% chance of being diagnosed with cancer to — AT BEST — a ~53% chance, if only we would substitute roughly 30% of our current daily meat, dairy and other calories with extra broccoli, beans and bananas, and assuming that we started this regime the moment we were weaned from breast milk and formula. Breathtaking protective effect there, eh? This is in line with the study’s findings: “As an example, under the assumption that study subjects shift one quintile upward in the distribution of fruit and vegetable intake corresponding to an average increase of approximately 150 g/d, 2.6% cancers in men and 2.3% cancers in women could be avoided.”

    Considering this is the best case scenario offered by this study, the end result is that unless you happen to find a new recipe for brussel sprouts or green bean caserole that you’re just thrilled with, don’t bother increasing your intake unless you just want to. In my humble opinion, it’s really not worth the effort to radically alter one’s diet just in order to lower one’s risk of cancer diagnosis (as opposed to death, which was not studied here) from “slightly worse than a coin flip” to … “slightly less worse than a coin flip” over the course of one’s natural lifespan.

    This is especially true since, from the study’s discussion section: “In this population, a higher intake of fruits and vegetables was also associated with other lifestyle variables, such as lower intake of alcohol, never-smoking, short duration of tobacco smoking, and higher level of physical activity, which may have contributed to a lower cancer risk. Although the multivariable analysis was adjusted for these factors, we cannot rule out the possibility of residual confounding…” (emphasis mine) In other words, the protective effect may not even have been wholly or primarily related to fruits and vegetables in the first place.

    (As always, my math is back of an envelope, so if there are any gross mistakes I’m happy to be corrected. Minor mistakes are likely to be the result of off-hand rounding and guess-timation, and are indicated with the use of the “~” symbol, or the words “around,” “about,” “roughly,” &c.)

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