Eat Your Veggies, Young Lady. No, Really: Study Links Eating Veggies And Fruits In Adolescence Can Reduce Cancer Risk Later In Life


New Cancer Study On Simple Way To Cut Risk: Eating Your Fruits And Veggies As A Kid May Greatly Reduce Chances Of Cancer Later

There are some tidbits of wisdom we can thank our mothers for, even if we didn’t want to hear them at the time.

Take vegetables. There are very few kids who really like them, or fruit either for that matter. Especially in this world saturated with sugary, fatty, salty snacks everywhere you turn.

But a new study is backing up the old trope of eating those vegetables: researchers in Boston have found evidence that a diet rich in fruits and vegetables in adolescence can greatly reduce a woman’s risk of cancer much later in life.

A research associate at Massachusetts General Hospital, Maryam Farvid who is also a visiting scientist at the Harvard, recently led a study that examined how diet during adolescence might impact cancer risk, and specifically how vegetable and fruit consumption might impact the risk. The researchers pulled data from a massive study called the Nurses’ Health Study in which 90,000 nurses filled out questionnaires regarding their diet. The study then followed up with them over time, asking about various health outcomes, including cancer.

What they found was rather astounding: there was not only saw a decreased risk of cancer among women who ate fruits and vegetables during adolescence, the researchers were actually able to break down that decreased risk and how it was connected with the type of produce the women ate. To wit:

• Eating at least 3 daily servings of apples, bananas, and grapes during adolescence gave women a 25 percent lower risk of developing breast cancer by middle age when compared with women who only ate a half-serving of fruit
• Oranges and kale consumed by teens gave adult women a minor decreased risk of breast cancer
• Fruit juice, perhaps counterintuitively, did not seem to contribute to a reduced risk of breast cancer. Researchers speculate that this might be because drinking fruit juice doesn’t give a person the fiber you get from actually eating the fruit, instead just imparting the sugar.
• Beta-carotene rich foods like carrots, pumpkins and squash seemed to contribute to a decreased cancer risk.

And while the researchers were quick to point out that this one study cannot be said to provide definitive cause-and-effect proof of a reduced risk of cancer, it certainly is enough to give one pause. When considering how adolescents should eat and what consequences dietary choices made today might have on their future lives, this study should be at the forefront of any discussion.

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