We all know that fruits and vegetables are an important part of a healthy diet, but new research shows that eating specific types of produce can decrease your chance of getting various kinds of colorectal cancer.

In a study published in October 2011 in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, researchers from the Western Australian Institute for Medical Research analyzed dietary information over a two-year period from 834 people with colorectal cancer and 939 people with no history of the disease.

The researchers found that the risk of cancer in the proximal colon (the left side of the colon, including the appendix) was reduced in people who ate brassica vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts and cabbage, but was not affected by eating other vegetables or fruits.

For cancer of the distal colon (the right side, including the large intestine), all fruits and vegetables significantly decreased risk—particularly apples and dark yellow vegetables like squash, pumpkin, sweet potatoes and carrots.

Fruit and vegetable consumption didn’t affect the incidence of rectal cancer in study participants, but drinking fruit juice was associated with a higher risk of getting the disease.

“Future studies might consider taking into account the location of the tumor when examining the relation between fruit and vegetable consumption and the risk of CRC (colorectal cancer),” the researchers concluded.

Dr. Michael Murray

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