Vegetable and Fruit Consumption and Prognosis Among Cancer Survivors: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Cohort Studies

Adv Nutr. 2020 Nov 16;11(6):1569-1582. doi: 10.1093/advances/nmaa082.


The number of cancer survivors is growing rapidly worldwide, especially long-term survivors. Although a healthy diet with a high vegetable and fruit consumption is a key factor in primary cancer prevention, there is a lack of specific dietary recommendations for cancer survivors, except in the case of breast cancer [World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF)/American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) report]. We have therefore carried out a systematic review and meta-analysis of cohort studies reporting on the associations between vegetable and fruit intake with cancer recurrence and mortality and all-cause mortality in cancer patients. After a comprehensive search of PubMed and Scopus databases, the results of 28 selected articles were analyzed. A high vegetable intake before diagnosis was inversely associated with overall mortality in survivors of head and neck (HR: 0.75; 95% CI: 0.65, 0.87) and ovarian cancer (HR: 0.78; 95% CI: 0.66, 0.91). In ovarian cancer patients, prediagnosis fruit intake was also inversely associated with all-cause mortality (HR: 0.82; 95% CI: 0.70, 0.96). The evidence was insufficient for survivors of other cancers, although these associations generally tended to be protective. Therefore, more studies are needed to clarify the association between vegetable and fruit consumption and the prognosis of these different types of cancer. To date, the general recommendation to consume ≥5 servings of vegetables and fruit per day (∼400 g/d) could underestimate the needs of cancer survivors, particularly those with ovarian tumors, in which the recommendation could increase to ∼600 g/d (i.e., 300 g/d of vegetables and 300 g/d of fruit).

Keywords: cancer; cohort; fruit; meta-analysis; mortality; prognosis; recurrence; survival; vegetables.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Cancer Survivors*
  • Diet
  • Fruit*
  • Humans
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local
  • Neoplasms
  • Prognosis
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Vegetables*