nos-trum. pronunciation: \nos'-trum\. noun. Etymology: Latin, neuter of noster our, ours.
1. a medicine of secret composition recommended by its preparer but usually without scientific proof of its effectiveness.
2. a usually questionable remedy or scheme.
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Thursday, April 8, 2010

Eating Fruits And Veggies Is Good: But Not For Preventing Cancer

It's a common belief that people are more at risk from cancer when they don't have a balanced diet that include lots of fruits and vegetables.  A big study says that's wrong.

This study in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute (Apr 6) of 470K people in 10 European countries showed a very weak association between high intake of fruits and veggies.

The problem is that those folks who eat lots of fruits and veggies also engage in other healthy behaviors:  they're less likely to be heavy drinkers or smokers, for instance.  This can introduce bias.  There can also be bias in the data because the research is based on what people self-report about their intake.  That is, those people who are more concerned about healthy living tend to "remember" a better image of their efforts and over-report their fruits and vegetables.

For Onion Peelers (math stuff):
Of the initial 142 605 men and 335 873 women included in the study, 9604 men and 21 000 women were identified with cancer after a median follow-up of 8.7 years.  Associations between reduced cancer risk and increased intake of total fruits and vegetables (HR = 0.97, 95% CI = 0.96 to 0.99; 100 g/d increased intake of total vegetables, HR = 0.98, 95% CI = 0.97 to 0.99); intake of fruits showed a weaker inverse association (HR = 0.99, 95% CI = 0.98 to 1.00).  You can see these risk ratios (HR) are all about 1.0, which would be no reduction in risk.  The confidence intervals (CI) are all small, so it's probably pretty accurate.

Bottom line, for most of us, stuffing our faces with various botanical food stuffs is not all that helpful if cancer is what you're trying to prevent.  But do it anyway, there are other benefits.  Besides, it keeps you regular and costs less than sirloin.

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