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Health Team

Can Veggies and Fruit Fight Cancer?

Posted July 17, 2007 8:49 p.m. EDT

Eating more than five servings of vegetables and fruits a day does not reduce the risk of cancer returning, researchers found.

A survey tested to see if more fiber, combined with a low-fat intake, prevented the recurrence of breast cancer in victims. Researchers studied more than 3,000 breast cancer survivors for around six years.

Half of the study participants ate eight fruit and vegetables servings a day and kept their fat intake to less than 24 percent. The other half kept to the typically recommended diet of five servings and fat intake under 30 percent.

Around 17 percent of the women in both diet groups experienced a recurrence of cancer in 10 years, according to the study results recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

"This major increase in vegetables and fruit and decrease in energy from fat did not prevent additional breast cancers and did not prolong life," said Dr. John Pierce of the Moore Cancer Center at the University of California, San Diego.

Joy Schumacher, also a study participant and breast cancer survivor, said she experienced some disappointment at hearing the study results.

"... As a cancer survivor, I'm looking for that miracle, that help that's going to get me going farther," said Schumacher.

The results did reinforce the knowledge that the five-a-day, low-fat diet with exercise can help breast cancer survivors and anyone else improve their overall health, said study authors.

"You don't need to 10 a day in vegetables and fruit. Five a day is enough," recommended Pierce.

Study participant Karen Georgens, a breast cancer survivor, said she won't miss all that extra carrot and tomato juice.

"I am relieved that I don't have to drink 16 ounces. Eight is really good, but not 16," said Georgens.