Debunking the “Magic Number”

I’m a huge proponent of preventing illness through diet and lifestyle – especially when it comes to cancer. We’ve featured a number of shows that focus on an anti-cancer diet, and today (Tuesday, May 11, 2010) we continue to promote this wellness strategy with a segment about the best cancer fighters you can find in every aisle of your grocery store.

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I’m a huge proponent of preventing illness through diet and lifestyle – especially when it comes to cancer. We’ve featured a number of shows that focus on an anti-cancer diet, and today (Tuesday, May 11, 2010) we continue to promote this wellness strategy with a segment about the best cancer fighters you can find in every aisle of your grocery store.

I’m a huge proponent of preventing illness through diet and lifestyle – especially when it comes to cancer. We’ve featured a number of shows that focus on an anti-cancer diet, and today (Tuesday, May 11, 2010) we continue to promote this wellness strategy with a segment about the best cancer fighters you can find in every aisle of your grocery store.


Recently, a new study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute found that the long-standing recommendation to eat 5 fruits and vegetables a day might not have as dramatic an impact on cancer risk as originally thought. The researchers, who led the study in 10 different countries in Western Europe, concluded that this dietary guideline decreased cancer risk by just 3%.


So what do these new findings mean? Simple: there’s no magic fruit and vegetable number when it comes to preventing cancer. But most doctors remain in complete agreement that the 5-A-Day Rule is still one of the best things you can do for your health. A diet rich in fruits and vegetables has tons of well-known benefits: controlling blood pressure, preventing heart disease, maintaining eyesight and much more.


There are many types of cancer; it is a complex set of diseases that is influenced by a complex set of risk factors. Therefore, one specific food or diet cannot be expected to eradicate all cancer – your genetics, lifestyle and diet are unique variables that together determine your individual risk. There may be specific foods in varying amounts and combinations that work to prevent specific types of cancer – but more research is needed before we can say exactly what these groupings might be.


The good news is that researchers are exploring these intricate connections every day. Just this week, a new study from the University of Michigan and The Ohio State University found that a compound in broccoli, sulforaphane, fights breast cancer. And one of the more intriguing areas of disease prevention research is looking not just at what we eat – but at the protective effects of eating certain foods in combination with each other.


Research findings like these lead me to believe that one day, we might be able to make specialized dietary recommendations based on the anti-cancer properties of various foods. Until then, an apple a day may not guarantee to keep the doctor away – but 5 servings of fruits and vegetables can help to improve your quality and length of life.

Blog written by Mehmet Oz, MD
America’s Doctor and three-time Daytime Emmy Award-winning host of the Daytime Emmy-winning The Dr. Oz Show, Dr. Oz is also...