Tobacco smokers who eat three servings of fruits and vegetables per day and drink green or black tea may be protecting themselves from lung cancer, according to a first-of-its-kind study by UCLA cancer researchers.
UCLA researchers found that smokers who ingested high levels of natural chemicals called flavonoids in their diet had a lower risk of developing lung cancer, an important finding since more than 90 percent of lung cancers are caused by tobacco smoking.
The study was published this month in the journal CANCER.
What we found was extremely interesting, that several types of flavonoids are associated with a reduced risk of lung cancer among smokers, said Dr. Zuo-Feng Zhang, a researcher at UCLAs Jonsson Cancer Center and a professor of public health and epidemiology. The findings were especially interesting because tobacco smoking is the major risk factor for lung cancer.
Flavonoids are water-soluble plant pigments that have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, both of which can counteract damage to tissues. For the UCLA study, researchers looked at 558 people with lung cancer and 837 people who did not have lung cancer and analyzed their dietary history.
Researchers found that study participants who ate foods containing certain flavonoids seemed to be protected from developing lung cancer. Zhang said the flavonoids that appeared to be the most protective included catechin, found in strawberries and green and black teas, kaempferol, found in Brussels sprouts and apples, and quercetin, found in beans, onions and apples.
So should smokers run out and stock up on the teas, apples, beans and strawberries? Quitting smoking is the best course of action, Zhang said, but eating more fruits and vegetables and drinking more black and green teas wont hurt.
Since this study is the first of its type, I would usually be hesitant to make any recommendations to people about their diet, Zhan
|Contact: Kim Irwin|
University of California - Los Angeles