Diet and cancer prevention: where we are, where we are going

Nutr Cancer. 2006;56(2):225-31. doi: 10.1207/s15327914nc5602_14.


The European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) was specifically designed to investigate the relationship between diet and cancer, with the aims of making a significant contribution to the accumulated scientific knowledge, trying to overcoming limitations of previous study. We present the most relevant results obtained so far for the most frequent cancer sites. EPIC is a multicenter prospective study carried out in 23 centers from 10 European countries: Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom, including 519,978 subjects (366,521 women and 153,457 men), most aged 35-70 years. Consumption of fruit is negatively associated with cancer of the lung but probably not with prostate cancer and breast cancer. Consumption of vegetables, mainly onion and garlic, probably reduces the risk of the intestinal stomach cancer but probably is not associated with cancer of the lung, prostate, and breast cancer. Consumption of red and processed meat is positively associated with colorectal cancer and with non-cardia stomach cancer in those infected by Helicobacter pylori. Fish intake is negatively associated with colorectal cancer risk. High alcohol intake increases the risk of breast cancer. These first results from the EPIC study on main food groups and most frequent tumors have made a significant contribution to the already accumulated evidence and, in combination with data from other prospective studies, provide the scientific knowledge for appropriate public health strategies aimed at reducing the global cancer burden.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Breast Neoplasms / prevention & control
  • Cohort Studies
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / prevention & control
  • Diet*
  • Female
  • Fruit
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms / prevention & control
  • Male
  • Meat
  • Middle Aged
  • Multicenter Studies as Topic
  • Neoplasms / diet therapy
  • Neoplasms / prevention & control*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / prevention & control
  • Stomach Neoplasms / prevention & control
  • Vegetables