Cruciferous vegetables and cancer risk in a network of case-control studies

Ann Oncol. 2012 Aug;23(8):2198-2203. doi: 10.1093/annonc/mdr604. Epub 2012 Feb 10.


Background: Cruciferous vegetables have been suggested to protect against various cancers, though the issue is open to discussion. To further understand their role, we analyzed data from a network of case-control studies conducted in Italy and Switzerland.

Patients and methods: The studies included a total of 1468 cancers of the oral cavity/pharynx, 505 of the esophagus, 230 of the stomach, 2390 of the colorectum, 185 of the liver, 326 of the pancreas, 852 of the larynx, 3034 of the breast, 367 of the endometrium, 1031 of the ovary, 1294 of the prostate, 767 of the kidney, and 11,492 controls. All cancers were incident, histologically confirmed; controls were subjects admitted to the same network of hospitals as cases for a wide spectrum of acute nonneoplastic conditions.

Results: The multivariate odds ratio (OR) for consumption of cruciferous vegetables at least once a week as compared with no/occasional consumption was significantly reduced for cancer of the oral cavity/pharynx (OR=0.83), esophagus (OR=0.72), colorectum (OR=0.83), breast (OR=0.83), and kidney (OR=0.68). The OR was below unity, but not significant, for stomach (OR=0.90), liver (OR=0.72), pancreatic (OR=0.90), laryngeal (OR=0.84), endometrial (OR=0.93), ovarian (OR=0.91), and prostate (OR=0.87) cancer.

Conclusion: This large series of studies provides additional evidence of a favorable effect of cruciferous vegetables on several common cancers.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Brassicaceae*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Diet
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Italy / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Risk Factors
  • Switzerland / epidemiology
  • Vegetables*