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Reducing Cancer Risk Naturally

Conquest - Spring 2008


By Dawn Dorsey

Eating four or more servings of green salad each week as well as working outside in the yard or garden a couple of times a week may significantly lower the chance of developing lung cancer in smokers and nonsmokers, according to a recent study.           

“The results are exciting because the study is applicable to everyone, and it may have a positive impact on the 15% of people who are diagnosed with lung cancer but who are nonsmokers,” says Michele Forman, Ph.D., lead author on the study and professor in M. D. Anderson’s Department of Epidemiology.

Forman adds that although the data are preliminary, the results give researchers important clues about how smokers and nonsmokers might be able to reduce their risk of developing lung cancer.

In the study, researchers sought to determine whether physical activity and diet have an impact on whether people develop lung cancer.

Forman says the frequency of eating salad is a marker of vegetable consumption. Gardening was chosen as a physical activity because a wide range of people can participate in it, and other physical activity didn’t appear to influence risk prediction. It’s one of the few activities people with lung cancer report doing, she says.

A study suggests that a healthful diet and gardening may reduce a person’s risk of developing lung cancer.

Researchers found that physical activity like gardening reduced the risk of developing lung cancer by 45% in former smokers and 33% in smokers. They also noted that smokers who eat three servings or less of salad a week have double the chance of lung cancer compared to smokers who eat four or more salads weekly.

These findings are part of an ongoing study that’s examining several risk factors for lung cancer, including exposure to secondhand smoke or dust, family history of cancer, and history of respiratory disease and smoking.

The study matches individuals being treated for lung cancer at M. D. Anderson with cancer-free people who are patients at Kelsey-Seybold Clinic, a private physician group in Houston.

More than 3,800 participants are involved in the study, and are matched and grouped by smoking status (current, former and never smokers), age, gender and ethnicity.

While these results are encouraging, Forman says more research is needed on the connection between lifestyle and the development of cancer.

“We don’t know yet whether these habits of eating well and exercising are markers for other lifestyle factors that might be even more important, such as lack of alcohol consumption,” she says. “We have a lot of puzzles in the picture yet to analyze

Conquest - Spring 2008

Download pdf version of Spring 2008

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