Diet with lots of pumpkins, peppers and carrots reduces colorectal cancer risk
Vegetables like pumpkins, peppers and carrots are excellent sources of the vitamin A-like phytochemicals that biochemists call carotenoids. This group of substances protect against breast and prostate cancer, according to studies we have written about before. According to a Chinese epidemiological study, carotenoids also protect against colorectal cancer.
Oncologists from the Chinese Sun Yat-sen University Cancer Center questioned 845 people with colon cancer about their diet, and did the same with 845 comparable people without colon cancer. After they determined how much carotenoids the study participants consumed daily, and divided the study participants into 4 equally large groups [Quartiles].
The participants in Quartile 1 consumed the smallest quantities of the measured carotenoids, the participants in Quartile 4 the most. By definition, the odds of colorectal cancer in Quartile 1 was 1.
The more carotenoids the study participants consumed, the smaller their chance of developing colon cancer. Especially a diet with relatively large amounts of beta-cryptoxanthine protected against colorectal cancer. Second and third best colorectal cancer fighters were alpha-carotene and lycopene.
The protective effect of beta-carotene was less prominent and, according to the statistical calculations of the researchers, lutein and zeaxanthin did not protect at all.
"In conclusion, this study support the hypothesis that relatively high dietary intake of speciﬁc carotenoid is associated with the reduced risk of colorectal cancer", the researchers summarize.
The best dietary sources of beta-cryptoxanthin are pumpkins and peppers, good sources of alpha-carotene are pumpkins and carrots. The best sources of lycopene are watermelon and processed tomato products.
Eur J Nutr. 2015 Jun;54(4):619-28.
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