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WCRF/AICR
Global Network

For Immediate Release: December 1, 2010
Contact: Mya Rae Nelson 202-328-7744

In The News: AICR Statement on Fruits, Vegetables and Cancer

WASHINGTON, DC –Many in the media have interpreted a review article appearing today in the British Journal of Cancer to mean that fruits and vegetables are not important for lowering cancer risk. Today the American Institute for Cancer Research released the following statement:

Susan Higginbotham, PhD, RD, Director of Research at AICR, said: "Let's put this new review in context. Back in 2007, the links between fruits and vegetables and cancer were reviewed by an expert panel of 21 scientists as part of our landmark expert report. This panel graded the evidence that fruit and vegetable consumption lowers risk for certain cancers as 'probable.' This means two things."

"First, it means that the evidence was not strong enough to receive a grade of 'convincing,' which is the most stringent grade the panel could assign. But it also means that the evidence did show – for stomach cancer, esophageal cancer, and others -- a level of consistency that was impossible to dismiss.

"This new review has not found anything significantly different. We would agree that weight management and physical activity have emerged as very important factors in cancer prevention, and that alcohol consumption raises risk significantly. But the evidence that fruits and vegetables can protect against specific cancers is still strong enough to recommend that people make them an important part of the diet. In addition to their probable direct effect on cancer risk, fruits and vegetables are also low in calorie density – which means they help prevent the buildup of body fat that has been convincingly linked to increased risk for many cancers.

"Diet is only one aspect of living for lower cancer risk. Scientists estimate that if healthy diets are combined with regular physical activity and weight management, about 1/3 of the most common cancers could be prevented – that's almost 350,000 cases in the US every year.

"Even the healthiest diet won't afford sure-fire protection from cancer. But we can lower our risk if we move more, stay lean and eat plenty of fruits and vegetables – as well as other plant foods such as whole grains and beans. The science is clear: It's the overall pattern of living that's important."

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The American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) is the cancer charity that fosters research on the relationship of nutrition, physical activity and weight management to cancer risk, interprets the scientific literature and educates the public about the results. It has contributed more than $96 million for innovative research conducted at universities, hospitals and research centers across the country. AICR has published two landmark reports that interpret the accumulated research in the field, and is committed to a process of continuous review. AICR also provides a wide range of educational programs to help millions of Americans learn to make dietary changes for lower cancer risk. Its award-winning New American Plate program is presented in brochures, seminars and on its website, www.aicr.org. AICR is part of the global network of charities that are dedicated to the prevention of cancer. The WCRF global network is led and unified by WCRF International, a membership association that operates as the umbrella organization for the network. The other charities in the WCRF network are World Cancer Research Fund in the UK (www.wcrf-uk.org); Wereld Kanker Onderzoek Fonds in the Netherlands (www.wcrf-nl.org); World Cancer Research Fund Hong Kong (www.wcrf-hk.org); and Fonds Mondial de Recherche contre le Cancer in France (www.fmrc.fr).


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