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New research examines the affect of eating vegetables for cancer prevention

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The American Institute of Cancer Research (AICR) recently highlighted ongoing and new research that examines how vegetables affect the body’s defense system and its ability to destroy carcinogens.

Sabrina Trudo, Ph.D., R.D., of the Department of Food Science and Nutrition at the University of Minnesota, is looking at how eating certain vegetables affect the early stages of cancer.

This AICR-funded research, along with other studies, suggests that some natural compounds in vegetables have the ability to increase the body’s defense system. An increase in the body's defense system, in turn, converts cancer-causing chemicals into less toxic compounds. Examples of vegetables thought to reduce the risk of cancer include broccoli, celery and parsnips.

Heterocyclic amines or “HCAs” are an example of a class of carcinogens that we ingest. HCAs come from red meat that is cooked at high temperatures. Understanding just how specific natural compounds from vegetables affect the way our bodies metabolize and destroy HCAs and other carcinogens is a big piece of the puzzle that's still under investigation.

Dr. Trudo and colleagues are also interested in learning how our genetic makeup affects this process. Each of us has a slightly different genetic background. These genetic differences may influence how some people respond to cancer-fighting compounds in fruits and vegetables.

Regardless of the outcome from this research, the AICR recommends eating a wide variety of fruits and vegetables to fight cancer. Over 374,000 cases of cancer in the U.S. can be prevented each year by diet, activity and weight management, according to the AICR. This figure includes an estimated 90,000 cases of breast cancer, 68,000 cases of colon cancer and 25,000 cases of prostate cancer that could be prevented each year by diet, exercise and lifestyle management.

For further information on cancer prevention visit the AICR and the National Cancer Institute websites.

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