Regular consumption of carotenoid-rich vegetables may reduce lung cancer risk

March 8, 2013

A new study from China indicates that increased intakes of vegetables rich in carotenoids, particularly beta-carotene, seem to contribute to the prevention of lung cancer.

To investigate the potential association of intakes of fruit, vegetables, carotenoids, dietary vitamins A and C, and folate with lung cancer risk, the observational study involved 61,491 adult Chinese men whose dietary intake was assessed through a food frequency questionnaire, while lung cancer cases among the participants were documented over a median of 5.5 years (1). After the first year, 359 lung cancer cases were observed, and 68.8% of them were current smokers. The study results showed that consumption of green leafy vege-tables, beta-carotene-rich vegetables, vitamin A, and total carotenoids were associated with a reduced lung cancer risk. In comparison between the highest and lowest intakes, disease risk reduction rates were up to 28% for green-leafy vegetables, 31% for beta-carotene-rich vegetables, 37% for vitamin A and 36% for total carotenoids. The participants’ intake of all fruits and vegetables combined was marginally associated with lung cancer risk.

Based on the results of several earlier studies, it has been hypothesized that vegetable and fruit consumption may positively influence lung cancer risk. In 2007, an expert report concluded that fruit probably protects against lung cancer and that there is only limited evidence suggesting that non-starchy vegetables are pre-ventive (2). Results of large prospective studies found a reduced risk for lung cancer with a high consump-tion of fruit (3) and a reduced lung cancer risk with a high vegetable consumption in current smokers (4). There are indications that the association of vegetables and fruits may vary among the histological subtypes of lung cancer, but study results are inconsistent. The major risk factor for lung cancer is smoking tobacco.


  1. Takata Y. et al. Intakes of fruits, vegetables, and related vitamins and lung cancer risk: results from the Shanghai Men's Health Study (2002–2009). Nutrition and Cancer. 2013; 65(1).
  2. WCRF/AICR expert report. Food, Nutrition, Physical Activity, and the Prevention of Cancer: a Global Perspective. American Institute for Cancer Research. 2007.
  3. Miller A. B. et al. Fruits and vegetables and lung cancer: Findings from the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition. Int J Cancer. 2004; 108(2):269–276.
  4. Linseisen J. et al. Fruit and vegetable consumption and lung cancer risk: updated information from the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC). Int J Cancer. 2007; 121(5):1103–1114.