EPIC Study

EPIC Study
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The role of fruit and vegetable consumption in preventing cancer.

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Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

What about this, though? “Fruit and vegetables have little effect”; “Eating [veggies] Doesn’t Stop Cancer.” Here’s the study they’re talking about: “Fruit and Vegetable Intake and Overall Cancer Risk” [in the EPIC study]. Here’s the data.

For those unfamiliar with the metric system, a large apple officially weighs 223 grams. So, compared to people eating about less than an apple a day, those eating one or more had a 5% decrease in overall cancer risk across the board. And those who ate the most fruits and vegetables had 11% lower risk.

Here’s the conclusion: the study supports the notion of a modest cancer-preventive effect of high intake of fruits and vegetables. But what about those headlines? They made it sound like fruits and veggies didn’t offer any protection. It’s not that fruits and vegetables didn’t prevent cancer in the study; it’s just how “modest” the preventive effect was.

The bottom line is we can’t eat a standard Western diet, and just add a few fruits and vegetables, and expect to be cancer-proof. We have to fundamentally change our diets.

Still, even if we’re living off burgers and doughnuts, a 5% drop in overall cancer risk means that an apple a day may keep 1 in 20 cancers away. That’s not too bad. I mean, how much does an apple cost? One and a half million Americans are diagnosed with cancer every year. This study suggests that if we all ate lots of fruits and vegetables, 168,000 cancers could be prevented every year in the United States. 168,000 cancers. If that’s modest, I’ll take it.

And they were counting like iceberg lettuce as a vegetable. It would have been interesting to see what some of the more powerful fruits and vegetables could do—berries, citrus, garlic, greens. And of course, there are lots of other health reasons to eat fruits and vegetables, besides just cancer.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

 

Image thanks to Ali Karimian via flickr

Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

What about this, though? “Fruit and vegetables have little effect”; “Eating [veggies] Doesn’t Stop Cancer.” Here’s the study they’re talking about: “Fruit and Vegetable Intake and Overall Cancer Risk” [in the EPIC study]. Here’s the data.

For those unfamiliar with the metric system, a large apple officially weighs 223 grams. So, compared to people eating about less than an apple a day, those eating one or more had a 5% decrease in overall cancer risk across the board. And those who ate the most fruits and vegetables had 11% lower risk.

Here’s the conclusion: the study supports the notion of a modest cancer-preventive effect of high intake of fruits and vegetables. But what about those headlines? They made it sound like fruits and veggies didn’t offer any protection. It’s not that fruits and vegetables didn’t prevent cancer in the study; it’s just how “modest” the preventive effect was.

The bottom line is we can’t eat a standard Western diet, and just add a few fruits and vegetables, and expect to be cancer-proof. We have to fundamentally change our diets.

Still, even if we’re living off burgers and doughnuts, a 5% drop in overall cancer risk means that an apple a day may keep 1 in 20 cancers away. That’s not too bad. I mean, how much does an apple cost? One and a half million Americans are diagnosed with cancer every year. This study suggests that if we all ate lots of fruits and vegetables, 168,000 cancers could be prevented every year in the United States. 168,000 cancers. If that’s modest, I’ll take it.

And they were counting like iceberg lettuce as a vegetable. It would have been interesting to see what some of the more powerful fruits and vegetables could do—berries, citrus, garlic, greens. And of course, there are lots of other health reasons to eat fruits and vegetables, besides just cancer.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

 

Image thanks to Ali Karimian via flickr

Doctor's Note

For more on fruit/vegetable consumption and cancer risk, check out these videos:
Preventing Breast Cancer By Any Greens Necessary
Apple Skin: Peeling Back Cancer
Which Fruit Fights Cancer Better?
Which Dietary Factors Affect Breast Cancer Most?

And check out my other videos on cancer

For more context, check out my associated blog posts: Breast Cancer Stem Cells vs. BroccoliFighting Inflammation With Food Synergy; and Poultry Paunch: Meat & Weight Gain.

If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here.

13 responses to “EPIC Study

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  1. Hi Dr Greger – I really enjoy your site and the nice little video summaries – they provide a lot of clarification of complex issues. I of course found you via PCRM and Neil Barnard who I strongly admire.

    COMMENT: I noticed that the 5th quintile represented greater or equal to 647 grams per day of fruits and vegetables. Does this include water weight and fiber weight? Measuring by weight alone does seem pretty inaccurate since most of us think in terms of volume when we track and analyze our diets – ie grams and cups and ounces.

    Most nutrition and calorie charts and sites track by “grams of pinto beans” etc. Plus there is so much fiber and water weight in fruits and veggies. The amount of water in fruits and veggies seems to range from 80 to 96% according to one chart I just found (http://www.ca.uky.edu/enri/pubs/enri129.pdf)

    CALCULATION: So, if you for a moment assumed that 647 grams by weight of veggies and fruit intake contained all carbs and proteins at 4 cals per gram for example (and NO fiber or water or fats weight – to make the calculation a little easier) – that would equal about 2500 calories per day food intake from 647 grams of pure “carbs and protein” food. (Again this is just for discussion sake).

    Remove 80% water content from this calculation (not to mention the fiber weight) – and that is only about 700 calories of carbs in 647 grams of veggies and fruits – if you know what I mean. I’m eating a vegan diet and am taking in about 2000 calories per day and my weight is stable. So I am ballparking that I’m probably taking in about 3 times the 647 “gross” grams per day of food – just to get to the 2000 calories per day. So this amounts to about 1950 grams per day of fruits and veggies, since that is all I eat as a vegan. Does this make sense?

    MY QUESTION IS: how does this 647 grams of fruits and veggies per day translate into an all vegan diet? How many grams per day does a vegan taking in 2000 calories per day amount to? Any studies regarding this much higher level of intake – amounting to 647 x 3 – approx 1950 grams per day – or 69 ounces of fruits and veggies – or roughly 4.3 lbs per day? Wow – that is a lot of weight but probably a good approximation of my total food intake by weight daily. Do my numbers make sense here? About 4.3 lbs per day by weight of food intake for 2000 vegan calories daily.




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    1. This is a great question! I’ll see if I can find an answer because based on what you just said, the risk of cancer should drop roughly 30% for fulll fledged vegans than just one eating 647 grams.

      Great question!

      One Apple a day = 223 grams so which drops cancer by 5%.
      5 apples a day drops it by 10% but we all know the people in the study wasn’t just eating apples. I’m using apples because if one were to eat 5 different fruits AND veggies a day, it would drop cancer risk by more than 10%, most likely an upperwards of 50%. Why? These people in the studies are eating animals and they aren’t eating the really good veggies or fruits. Grits are a plant based food but oatmeal + cinnamon + a dash of turmeric is in a entire different ball park. Its hard to quantify these things in a study that had major faults to begin with. One would simply ask the people what veggies and fruits they ate and average the antioxidant ratio of that per day.

      I’ll go and find out where the study was done and find out what are the kinds of fruits and vegetables the people in that country eats on a daily basis. This would at least give an answer as to how they came up with the percentages.




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  2. Do you have any specific information on a high carb, low fat, raw vegan diet for weight loss and overall health? Like the one suggested by Dr. Douglas Graham’s “80 10 10”? If not, I would love to see the information.




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  3. But don’t studies point to that vegetarians vs. healthy omnivores in general have pretty much the same all cause mortality pretty much, except one or two things?




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  4. EPIC Failure? I am puzzled about the EPIC result that prostate cancer was not influenced by fruit and vegetable consumption, and the poor showing in general of vegetables and fruits as indicated by the hazard ratios. This makes me suspect there is a significant methodological problem with EPIC as I have reviewed a lot of research which suggests substance in plant foods inhibit prostate cancer growth, including the small Ornish study. Also at odds with in vitro work which suggest profound effects of plants on cancer cell proliferation

    This 2012 study presents interesting statistics – “Vegetarian Diets and the Incidence of Cancer in a Low-risk Population” Yessenia Tantamango-Bartley et al, and shows an HR of about 0.8 for vegans with respect to male cancers (penis, prostate, testes)




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  5. http://www.bbc.com/news/health-28797106
    thats whats Bbc says on epic study.. it is that true???
    Researchers from the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (Epic) followed half a million people in 10 countries for more than 12 years.

    The researchers found that eating moderate amounts of red meat had no effect on mortality. The lowest overall mortality rates were in those eating up to 80g a day.




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    1. It had no effect on mortality rates because the rates stayed the same.

      If the rate of mortality is 80% likely to die of a heart attack and next year 80% of the people who die due to a heart attack then there wasn’t an increase in mortality. Why? Again, the didn’t eat more of anything, they stayed the same is average aka moderate.

      Do you see what I mean? They are being very deceitful in their use of Tue english language. Its like me following the SAD diet and basing a study off of that. My mortality risk isn’t going up because the moderate american is following the SAD diet. Now, if I was eating a diet even worse than SAD then the mortality risk would go up.




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  6. I am reading The Gerson Therapy by Dr Gerson and one of his main recipe for curing cancers is carrots.. Tons of carrots and Granny Smith apples and also a green juice. I am just wondering how it is that he has successfully cured thousands n counting with high dosage of carrot juicing!




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  7. I highly suggest that if anyone stumbles accros this video, please visit my responses I made to others ( Noe Marcial ) in comment section because the makers of the EPIC study were being very deceitful in the words they used in the English language.




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