Fruit and vegetable consumption and colorectal adenomas in the Nurses' Health Study

Cancer Res. 2006 Apr 1;66(7):3942-53. doi: 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-05-3637.


Consumption of fruits and vegetables may confer protection from colorectal adenomas, but the limited observational and interventional evidence is inconclusive. We examined the association between fruit and vegetable consumption and the prevalence and incidence of adenomas of the distal colon and rectum in the Nurses' Health Study (NHS). We used data from 34,467 women in the NHS who had undergone colonoscopy or sigmoidoscopy during follow-up between 1980 and 1998. Consumption of fruits and vegetables was assessed in 1980, 1984, 1986, 1990, and 1994 using a semiquantitative food frequency questionnaire; 1,720 prevalent cases of adenoma of the distal colon and rectum were diagnosed between 1980 and 1998. Frequent consumption of fruit was inversely related to the risk of being diagnosed with polyps, whereas little association was found for vegetable consumption. Women who reported consuming five or more servings of fruit a day had an odds ratio (OR) of 0.60 [95% confidence interval (95% CI), 0.44-0.81] for developing colorectal adenomas compared with women who consumed only one or fewer servings of fruit per day, after adjustment for relevant covariates (P(trend) = 0.001). The respective OR for vegetable consumption was 0.82 (95% CI, 0.65-1.05; P(trend) = 0.1). Women who consumed four or more servings of legumes per week had a lower incidence of colorectal adenomas than women who reported consuming one serving per week or less (OR, 0.67; 95% CI, 0.51-0.90; P(trend) = 0.005). Frequent consumption of fruit may reduce the risk of colorectal adenomas.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adenoma / epidemiology*
  • Adenoma / prevention & control*
  • Adult
  • Cohort Studies
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / prevention & control*
  • Diet
  • Female
  • Fruit*
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Prevalence
  • Vegetables*