Eating cruciferous vegetables at least once a week could cut the risk of developing mouth cancer, according to a review study.
Mouth cancer awareness campaigners, the British Dental Health Foundation, believe the study is further evidence of the link between poor diet and mouth cancer, one of risk factors for developing the disease.
Cruciferous vegetables are from the vegetable family Brassicaceae and include broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, sprouts, watercress and radish.
The research1, which is presented in the Annals of Oncology, revealed that compared to men and women who ate no cruciferous vegetables, those who ate their greens vegetables at least once a week cut their risk of mouth cancer by almost a fifth (17%).
The benefits of cruciferous vegetables didn't stop there. Results also showed the vegetables cut the risk of oesophageal cancer by more than a quarter (28%), colorectal and breast cancer by almost a fifth (17%) and kidney cancer by almost a third (32%).
Although the authors concluded the study provides ‘additional evidence' on the benefits of cruciferous vegetables, chief executive of the British Dental Health Foundation, Dr Nigel Carter expressed a need for people to recognise the role poor diet plays when it comes to mouth cancer.
Dr Carter said: ‘Around a third of all cases of oral cancer are thought to be linked to an unhealthy diet. The Foundation recommends that people ensure they eat a healthy, balanced diet, with plenty of fruit and vegetables. There is also increasing evidence that suggests Omega 3, found in fish and eggs, can help lower risks of oral cancer, as can foods high in fibre such as brown rice, whole-wheat pasta, nuts and seeds.
‘The number of people being diagnosed with mouth, throat and food pipe cancer is continually rising. Researchers believe this is due to excessive smoking, drinking and an unhealthy diet among the young, while new research shows a dramatic rise in oral cancer as a result of the human papilloma virus and oral sex.
‘We must not forget tobacco is still the most likely cause of mouth cancer, linked to around three-quarters of all cases of a disease which kills one person every five hours in the UK. With new cases occurring all the time, too many people still remain unaware of the risk smoking poses. Encouraging people to quit smoking and pursue a healthy lifestyle would reduce the risk of developing oral cancer."
The Foundation runs Mouth Cancer Action Month, supported by Denplan and Simplyhealth, throughout November under the tagline ‘If in doubt, get checked out'. The campaign aims to raise awareness of mouth cancer among the public, the risk factors associated with the disease and what the public should look out for. These include ulcers that do not heal within three weeks, red and white patches in the mouth and unusual lumps or swellings in the mouth.
1. C. Bosetti et al. Cruciferous vegetables and cancer risk in a network of case-control studies Ann Oncol (2012) 23(8): 2198-2203 first published online February 10, 2012 doi:10.1093/annonc/mdr604