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Originally published November 4 2008

New Study Shows Fruit Reduces Risk of Esophageal Cancer

by David Gutierrez, staff writer

(NaturalNews) A diet high in fruits and vegetables may significantly decrease a person's risk of esophageal cancer, according to a study conducted by researchers from Kaiser Permanente Northern California and published in the American Journal of Gastroenterology.

The researchers compared people's risk of contracting a condition known as Barrett's esophagus - a precursor to esophageal cancer - with their intakes of the antioxidants vitamin C, vitamin E and beta-carotene. Of more than 900 participants, 296 had Barrett's esophagus, 308 had gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and 309 had neither condition. Antioxidant intake was assessed by means of the 110-item food frequency questionnaire.

Barrett's esophagus is caused by GERD.

The researchers found that those with the highest dietary intake of vitamin C had a 52 percent lower risk of developing Barrett's esophagus than those with the lowest intake, when those with Barrett's esophagus were compared to those in the control group. Those with the highest intake of beta-carotene had a 44 percent higher risk, and those with the highest dietary intake of vitamin E had a 75 percent lower risk.

The highest average dietary intakes of vitamin C, beta-carotene and vitamin E were 184 milligrams per day, 6.8 milligrams per day and 19 micrograms per day, respectively. The lowest average intakes were 43 milligrams per day, 1.8 milligrams per day and 5.4 micrograms per day, respectively.

"The study demonstrated that antioxidant intake was inversely associated with the risk of developing Barrett's oesophagus and that the effects appear to come mainly from dietary sources, rather than from supplemental sources," the researchers wrote.

When the group with Barrett's esophagus was compared to the group with GERD, however, antioxidant intake appeared to have no effect. This may mean that high antioxidant intake from fruits and vegetables actually decreases the risk of developing GERD, but has no effect on esophageal cancer risk among those who have already developed that condition.

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