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Eat More Yellow-Orange Fruits and Vegetables to Prevent Cancer


Bladder cancer will affect more than 15,000 men and women this year in the United States, according to statistics from the National Cancer Institute. It occurs mainly in older people, with the average age of diagnosis at 73 years. Although men are about 3 to 4 times more likely to get bladder cancer during their lifetime than women, the rate increases significantly in people who smoke.

There have been many studies to link fruit and vegetable consumption to lowered cancer risk, including lowered bladder cancer risk. The latest study, by researchers at the University of Hawaii Cancer Center, finds that women who consume more fruits and vegetables – particularly those that are yellow-orange, have a 52% less likely chance to be diagnosed with bladder cancer.

Dr. Song-Yi Park PhD notes that yellow-orange vegetables are rich in vitamins A, C and E. Beta-carotene and alpha-carotene are carotenoids found in foods such as apricots, cantaloupe, grapefruit, squashes, carrots, pumpkin and pineapples. These nutrients help our bodies fight disease in a number of ways:

1. Fights harmful free radicals in the body
2. Lowers blood pressure
3. Lowers LDL (“bad”) cholesterol
4. Boosts the immune system

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Alpha carotene in particular appears to stop cancer cells from dividing and taking over other cells in the body.

Vitamin C is an immune system booster – and particularly important for smokers, as they have lower levels of the vitamin in their blood. Vitamin C helps limit the formation of carcinogens plus acts as an antioxidant to help prevent the cellular damage that can lead to cancer.

The American Institute for Cancer Research recommends filling at least two-thirds of your plate with vegetables, fruits, whole grains and beans. Recently, a study found that more than half of women in a study were not reaching the minimum daily intake of fruits and vegetables. Here are some tips to eat more, from the Harvard School of Public Health:

1. Keep fruit out where you can see it. That way you’ll be more likely to eat it. Keep it out on the counter or in the front of the fridge.
2. Get some every meal, every day. Try filling half your plate with vegetables at each meal. Serving up salads, stir fry, or other vegetable-rich fare makes it easier to reach this goal. Bonus points if you can get some fruits and vegetables at snack time, too.
3. Explore the produce aisle and choose something new. Variety is the key to a healthy diet. Get out of a rut and try some new fruits and vegetables.
4. Bag the potatoes. Choose other vegetables that are packed with more nutrients and more slowly digested carbs.
5. Make it a meal. Try some new healthy recipes where vegetables take center stage and meat is more of a side (or skipped altogether).

Journal References:
S.-Y. Park, N. J. Ollberding, C. G. Woolcott, L. R. Wilkens, B. E. Henderson, L. N. Kolonel. Fruit and Vegetable Intakes Are Associated with Lower Risk of Bladder Cancer among Women in the Multiethnic Cohort Study.Journal of Nutrition, 2013; 143 (8): 1283 DOI:10.3945/jn.113.174920
Jennifer Irvin Vidrine, Diana W. Stewart, Stephen C. Stuyck, Jo Ann Ward, Amanda K. Brown, Courtenay Smith, and David W. Wetter. "Lifestyle and Cancer Prevention in Women: Knowledge, Perceptions, and Compliance with Recommended Guidelines." Journal of Women's Health. June 2013, 22(6): 487-493. doi:10.1089/jwh.2012.4015.

Additional Resources:
National Cancer Institute, SEER Stat Fact Sheets – Bladder Cancer
American Cancer Society: Bladder Cancer
A Healthier Michigan: 10 Reasons to Eat Orange and Yellow Fruits and Veggies
University of Kentucky College of Agriculture
American Institute for Cancer Research