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Cancer prevention and diet: oppourtunities in Europe

  • Elio Riboli (a1) and Teresa Norat (a1)
  • DOI:
  • Published online: 01 April 2001

Over the past 20 years, a large number of epidemiological studies, particularly case-control and cohort studies, have been conducted to investigate the role of diet and the risk of developing different types of cancer. The most consistent finding so far is the association observed between consumption of vegetables and fruit and reduced risk of cancers of the digestive and respiratory tracts. More recently, evidence has accumulated indicating that high consumption of red meat (mainly beef, lamp and pork) and of preserved meat (‘charcuterie’) is specifically associated with a modest but significant increase in colorectal cancer risk. Finally, there is epidemiological evidence supporting an association between the risk of developing gastric cancer and the intake of salt and-preserved foods.

Cancer incidence and dietary habits vary substantially across Europe, and the expected benefit of dietary changes may be somewhat difference in different populations. Despite some uncertainly, it is generally agreed that an increase in the consumption of vegetables and fruits and a decrease in the intake of red meat, processed meat, alcoholic beverages, salt and salt-preserved foods should contribute to a reduction in the incidence of cancers of the digestive and respiratory tract.

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