Diet May Protect Against Lung Cancer in Current and Former Smokers

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A new study reported online January 12, 2010 in Cancer Research concluded that leafy green vegetables, folate, and some multivitamins may serve as a protective factor against lung cancer in current and former smokers. This first step in understanding a complex association was funded by the National Cancer Institute.

Researchers studied more than 1,100 current and former smokers who submitted sputum specimens and completed questionaires about their dietary intake. Most of the sample (75%) were women. Sputum samples were examined for the methylation status of eight genes that are linked to the increased risk of lung cancer in previous studies. Gene Methylation is believed to be a major mechanism for lung cancer development and progression and also a potential marker for the early detection of lung cancer.

The researchers investigated the association between 21 dietary variables and methylation and found that higher intakes of leafy vegetables and folate were significantly associated with a reduced probability of high methylation. Additional research is needed to validate these findings.

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