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Study casts doubt on on five-a-day cancer theory

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A European study of cancer and nutrition has found only a “modest” link between the claim that five portions of fruit and vegetables a day can stave off cancer.

A total of 10 European countries took part in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) study which analysed nearly half a million people and their eating habits.

They found that eating the recommended five-a-day had little effect on the risk of developing cancer, as did eating smaller or larger portions.

Centres in Cambridge and Oxford took part in the research which also analysed the effect of other lifestyle factors such as smoking, alcohol intake, obesity, meat and processed meat consumption, exercise and hormone replacement therapy (HRT).

The research, led by Paolo Boffetta from the Tisch Cancer Institute at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York, found that fruit and vegetables offered only a “small” protective effect against cancer.

They also concluded that it could not be guaranteed that any alleged reduction in cancer risk could not be attributed to other factors.

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