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 This past week a study was published linking 8 to 10 portions of fruits and vegetables per day with a lower risk of early death, cancer, heart disease, and stroke. This confirms other research linking many daily servings of fruits and vegetables with various health benefits. For example, the study findings discussed in the Nov. 2, 2016 post: "Eating lots of fruits and vegetables (more than 10 servings a day!)  is linked to better cognitive functioning in both normal weight and overweight adults (both young and older adults), and may delay the onset of cognitive decline that occurs with aging and also dementia."

This new study led by researchers from the Imperial College London reviewed 95 previous studies of the relationship between diet and health. They found that people who ate 10 portions of fruits and vegetables a day had nearly a third lower risk of premature death and stroke than those who ate very little or no fruits and vegetables. The researchers pointed out that as the amount of fruits and vegetables eaten daily went up, the health benefits also increased (lower risk of heart disease, stroke, cardiovascular disease, cancer), and the risk of premature death decreased - thus a dose related relationship. So better to eat some fruits and vegetables than none! A portion is about 80 grams, equivalent to a medium apple, 1 banana, or generally about 1/2 cup of vegetables or fruits.

From Science Daily: Eating up to ten portions of fruit and vegetables a day may prevent 7.8 million premature deaths worldwide

A fruit and vegetable intake above five-a-day shows major benefit in reducing the chance of heart attack, stroke, cancer and early death. This is the finding of new research, led by scientists from Imperial College London, which analysed 95 studies on fruit and vegetable intake....the greatest benefit came from eating 800 g a day (roughly equivalent to ten portions -- one portion of fruit or vegetables if defined as 80 g).

The results revealed that even a daily intake of 200 g was associated with a 16 per cent reduced risk of heart disease, an 18 per cent reduced risk of stroke, and a 13 per cent reduced risk of cardiovascular disease. This amount, which is equivalent to two and a half portions, was also associated with 4 per cent reduced risk in cancer risk, and 15 per cent reduction in the risk of premature death. Further benefits were observed with higher intakes. Eating up to 800 g fruit and vegetables a day -- or 10 portions -- was associated with a 24 per cent reduced risk of heart disease, a 33 per cent reduced risk of stroke, a 28 per cent reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, a 13 per cent reduced risk of total cancer, and a 31 per cent reduction in dying prematurely. This risk was calculated in comparison to not eating any fruit and vegetables. [Original study.]

  Eating lots of fruits and vegetables (more than 10 servings a day!)  is linked to better cognitive functioning in both normal weight and overweight adults (both young and older adults), and may delay the onset of cognitive decline that occurs with aging and also dementia. Overweight and obese older adults with a daily fruit and vegetable consumption of less than 5 servings generally had worse cognitive functioning. Higher levels of physical activity and higher daily fruit and vegetable consumption were both associated with better cognitive functioning. Cognitive functioning generally refers to a person’s ability to reason and think, the mental processes needed to gather and process information, and all aspects of language and memory.

The York University researchers found that fruit and vegetable consumptionphysical activity, and BMI or body mass index (normal, overweight, obese) all appear to interact in how a person mentally functions (cognitive functioning), especially as they age. The ideal goal as one ages is to preserve the mind. It appears that eating lots of fruits and vegetables daily (10 or more servings), being physically active (this includes daily walks), and being a healthy weight help with this goal. It helps to also be highly educated (or read books?) so that the brain has a "cognitive reserve",

Why is daily fruit and vegetable consumption (FVC) good for cognitive functioning and the brain? Studies find that daily consumption of fruits and vegetables is strongly associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes and age-related declines. They appear to be "protective" against cognitive decline. The study researchers point out that fruits and vegetables contain high quantities of vitamin C and E, fiber, micronutrients, flavonoids, beta-carotenes and other classes of phytochemicals. These are important in various ways: "they modulate detoxifying enzymes, stimulate the immune system, modulate cholesterol synthesis, and act as antibacterial, antioxidant or neuroprotective agents." NOTE: A serving of fruit is generally 1 medium fruit or 1/2 cup of fruit. A serving of vegetables is 1 cup of raw leafy greens or 1/2 cup of other vegetables. From Medical Xpress:

Healthy living linked to higher brain function, delay of dementia

It's tempting to dip into the leftover Halloween treats, but new research out of York University has found eating plenty of fruits and vegetables, combined with regular exercise, leads to better cognitive functioning for younger and older adults, and may delay the onset of dementia. York U post-doctoral fellow Alina Cohen and her team, including Professors Chris I. Ardern and Joseph Baker, looked at cross-sectional data of 45,522 participants, age 30 to 80+, from the 2012 annual component of the Canadian Community Health Survey.

What they found was that for those who are normal weight or overweight, but not obese, eating more than 10 servings of fruit and vegetable daily was linked to better cognitive functioning. When moderate exercise was added, those eating less than five servings, reported better cognitive functioning. Higher levels of physical activity were linked to the relationship between higher daily fruit and vegetable consumption and better cognitive performance. Those with higher body mass indexes, low activity levels and fruit and vegetable consumption were associated with poorer cognitive functioning.

More details from the original study in the Journal of Public Health: Physical activity mediates the relationship between fruit and vegetable consumption and cognitive functioning: a cross-sectional analysis

Results: Higher BMIs, lower PA [physical activity] and FVC [fruit and vegetable consumption] were associated with poorer cognitive functioning. Additionally, PA statistically mediated the relationship between FVC and cognitive function (Sobel test: t = −3.15; P < 0.002); and higher education levels and daily FVC were associated with better cognitive function (P < 0.001). Conclusion: Higher PA levels were associated with better cognitive functioning in younger and older adults. Also, higher daily FVC and education levels were associated with better cognitive scores.

Individuals who were normal weight or overweight and reported a FVC of >10 servings per day reported better cognitive functioning scores than those who reported <10 servings, as well as those individuals with obesity . As well, both active and inactive individuals who reported a FVC of >10 servings per day had better cognitive scores than those who consumed fewer servings. However, in those who were moderately active, individuals with a daily FVC of <5 or 5–10 servings reported better cognitive functioning than those with a daily FVC of 10 or more servings; this may have resulted because of underestimations of the number of servings of fruits and vegetables actually consumed... Thus, increasing FVC and PA levels as well as having a healthy BMI may aid in the delay of cognitive decline.

Results also indicated that higher education levels along with a daily FVC of five or more servings were associated with better cognitive functioning. Education may be assisting in the process of delaying cognitive decline by increasing cognitive reserve, the ability of the human brain to cope with damage by using different brain processes to retain the ability to function well. Cognitive reserve is developed through intellectual stimulation and translates into a higher volume of connections between neurons and stronger rates of cerebral blood flow.

This study found that people with high red meat intake, combined with low fruit and vegetable intake and a poor overall diet (which was found most frequently in males of low socioeconomic status) had biological markers indicating accelerated aging and poor renal function (early indicators of chronic kidney disease). Bottom line: eat less red meat, more whole grains, more fruits and vegetables for your health. From Medical Xpress:

Too much red meat and too few vegetables may increase your body's biological age

A diet containing too much red meat and not enough fruit and vegetables could increase your body's 'biological age' and contribute to health problems. Research led by the University of Glasgow and published today in Aging, has found that a moderate increase in serum phosphate levels caused by red meat consumption, combined with a poor overall diet, increases biological age (miles on the clock) in contrast to chronological age (years of age).
The study, which looked at participants from the most deprived to the least deprived in the NHS Greater Glasgow Health Board area, also demonstrates that deprived males were the worst affected.

Data from the study suggests that accelerated biological ageing, and dietary derived phosphate levels among the most deprived males, were directly related to the frequency of red meat consumption. Researchers believe that excess red meat particularly affects this group because of their poor diet and "sub-optimal fruit and vegetable intake".
The research, led by the Institute of Cancer Sciences in collaboration with the Karolinska Institutet (Stockholm, Sweden), also found that high phosphate levels in deprived males correlated with reduced kidney function and even underlying mild to moderate chronic kidney disease.

Phosphate is naturally present in basic foodstuffs, including meats, fish, eggs, dairy products and vegetables. Intestinal absorption of naturally occurring phosphate is minimally regulated, as absorption is efficient, hence high supplementation results in markedly elevated levels of serum phosphate, which can have adverse health consequences. Indeed high phosphate levels, as a consequence of dietary intake, have already been linked to higher all-cause and cardiovascular mortality risk, premature vascular ageing and kidney disease.

The researchers observed significant relationships between serum phosphate and biological age markers, including DNA content and telomere length(Original study.)

The important thing learned from this study (though it was done in the laboratory and not directly on humans) is that it supports that apigenin (in the same chemical group as flavonoids) is important for neuron formation and for strengthening connections between brain cells. Flavonoids are known to positively affect memory and learning, and to preserve and enhance brain function. Apigenin is found in many fruits and vegetables, but common sources are parsley, celery, celeriac, thyme, chamomile, grapefruit, onions, oranges, red wine, and spices such as rosemary, oregano, thyme, basil, and coriander. Another good reason to eat a variety of fruits and vegetables. From Medical Xpress:

Plant compound found in spices and herbs increases brain connections

Brazilian researchers from D'Or Institute for Research and Education (IDOR), Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ) and Federal University of Bahia (UFBA) have demonstrated in laboratory that apigenin, a substance found in parsley, thyme, chamomile and red pepper, improves neuron formation and strengthens the connections between brain cells.

Previous experiments with animals had already shown that substances from the same chemical group as the apigenin, known as flavonoids, positively affect memory and learning. Many studies highlight the potential of flavonoids to preserve and enhance brain function. While the effectiveness of flavonoids for brain health is not an entirely new concept, this research is the first to show the positive effects of apigegin directly on human cells and the first to unraveling its mechanism.

The scientists observed that just by applying apigenin to human stem cells in a dish they become neurons after 25 days - an effect they would not see without the substance. Moreover, the neurons that were formed made stronger and sophisticated connections among themselves after being treated with this natural compound."Strong connections between neurons are crucial for good brain function, memory consolidation and learning", says neuroscientist from IDOR and UFRJ Stevens Rehen, leader author of the paper published today atAdvances in Regenerative Biology.

The research team conducted by Rehen demonstrated that apigenin works by binding to estrogen receptors, which affect the development, maturation, function, and plasticity of the nervous system. This group of hormones is known to delay the onset of psychiatric and neurodegenerative disorders such as schizophrenia, depression, Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease. However, the use of estrogen-based therapies is limited by the increased risk of estrogen-dependent tumors and cardiovascular problems.

Researchers believe apigenin can be used as an alternative approach on future treatments for neurodegenerative diseases as well as in neuronal differentiation strategies in laboratory. "We show a new path for new studies with this substance", points out Rehen. "Moreover, flavonoids are present at high amounts in some foods and we can speculate that a diet rich in flavonoids may influence the formation of neurons and the way they communicate within the brain."

A new study that tracked people more than 20 years found that a diet high in carotenoids - found in brightly colored fruits and vegetables (such as carrots, orange peppers, spinach, broccoli) - is linked to lower levels of macular degenaration (an age linked vision ailment). Note that the link is found with real foods and not supplements (the researchers did not look at supplements). From Medical Xpress:

Carrots do help aging eyes, study shows

Your parents may have told you, "Eat your carrots, they're good for your eyes," and a new study suggests they were on to something. Pigments called carotenoids—which give red or orange hues to carrots, sweet potatoes and orange peppers, or deep greens to produce like spinach, broccoli and kale—may help ward off the age-linked vision ailment known as macular degeneration, researchers said.

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is one of the most common causes of vision loss, especially in the elderly. It affects the macula, the center part of the retina, and can lead to declines in sharp central vision and even blindness, experts say. Scientists have already linked a variety of factors to the condition including genetics, smoking and nutrition, said Bernstein, who was not involved in the new study. Prior research has produced mixed findings about links between carotenoids and macular degeneration, the researchers said. 

In the new study, Wu's team looked at data from health surveys that tracked people aged 50 and older—more than 63,000 women and almost 39,000 men—from 1984 or 1986 until 2010. Participants were all nurses and other health professionals. Overall, about 2.5 percent of study participants developed either intermediate or advanced forms of the eye condition during the years of the study.

Wu's team found that people who consumed the very highest levels of carotenoids known as lutein and zeaxanthin had a 40 percent lower risk of the advanced form of AMD compared to those who ate the very least. "Other carotenoids, including beta cryptoxanthin, alpha carotene and beta carotene, may also play protective roles," Wu added. People who consumed the very highest amount of these carotenoids—found in foods such as carrots and sweet potatohad a 25 to 35 percent lower risk of the advanced form of the illness, the findings showed.

Researchers did not find any link between the carotenoids and the intermediate form of macular degeneration, however. Lutein is found in eggs and dark leafy vegetables including broccoli, kale and spinach, Bernstein said. Zeaxanthin is harder to find in the diet, he said, but you can get it from corn, orange peppers and goji berries. Wu noted that both lutein and zeaxanthin concentrate in the macula, where they are thought to protect it from damage from oxygen and light.

Bernstein cautioned that the study has some weaknesses. It's based on people's recollections of their diets, he said, and doesn't examine the levels of the carotenoids that actually made it into their bodies and eyes. Still, he praised the research.... However, he said, a diet high in fruits and vegetables is important, especially colorful vegetables. Consume several servings a day, he advised.

 There has been tremendous concern in recent years over pathogenic bacteria (such as Salmonella and Escherichia coli) found on raw fruits and vegetables. But what about nonpathogenic bacteria? Aren't some of the benefits of eating raw fruits and vegetables the microbes found on them? What actually is on them?

The following research using modern genetic analysis (16 S rRNA gene pyrosequencing) is from 2013, but very informative and the only study that I could find of its kind. The results suggest that humans are exposed to substantially different bacteria depending on the types of fresh produce they consume, with differences between conventionally and organically farmed varieties contributing to this variation. While each of the 11 produce types studies harbored different microbial communities, the most common (abundant) across all samples were: Enterobacteriaceae [30% (mean)], Bacillaceae (4.6%), and Oxalobacteraceae (4.0%). Earlier studies also suggested that non-pathogenic microbes may interact with and inhibit microbial pathogens found on produce surfaces. Bottom line: eat a variety of raw fruits and vegetables to get exposed to a variety of non pathogenic microbes. From Science Daily:

Diverse bacteria on fresh fruits, vegetables vary with produce type, farming practices

Fresh fruit and vegetables carry an abundance of bacteria on their surfaces, not all of which cause disease. In the first study to assess the variety of these non-pathogenic bacteria, scientists report that these surface bacteria vary depending on the type of produce and cultivation practices. The results are published March 27 in the open access journal PLOS ONE by Jonathan Leff and Noah Fierer at the University of Colorado, Boulder.

The study focused on eleven produce types that are often consumed raw, and found that certain species like spinach, tomatoes and strawberries have similar surface bacteria, with the majority of these microbes belonging to one family. Fruit like apples, peaches and grapes have more variable surface bacterial communities from three or four different groups. The authors also found differences in surface bacteria between produce grown using different farming practices.

The authors suggest several factors that may contribute to the differences they observed, including farm locations, storage temperature or time, and transport conditions. These surface bacteria on produce can impact the rate at which food spoils, and may be the source of typical microbes on kitchen surfaces. Previous studies have shown that although such microbes don't necessarily cause disease, they may still interact with, and perhaps inhibit the growth of disease-causing microbes. The results of this new research suggest that people may be exposed to substantially different bacteria depending on the types of produce they consume.

Excerpts of the actual study from PLoS One:  Bacterial Communities Associated with the Surfaces of Fresh Fruits and Vegetables

Fresh fruits and vegetables can harbor large and diverse populations of bacteria. However, most of the work on produce-associated bacteria has focused on a relatively small number of pathogenic bacteria....Our results demonstrated that the fruits and vegetables harbored diverse bacterial communities, and the communities on each produce type were significantly distinct from one another. However, certain produce types (i.e., sprouts, spinach, lettuce, tomatoes, peppers, and strawberries) tended to share more similar communities as they all had high relative abundances of taxa belonging to the family Enterobacteriaceae when compared to the other produce types (i.e., apples, peaches, grapes, and mushrooms) which were dominated by taxa belonging to the Actinobacteria, Bacteroidetes, Firmicutes, and Proteobacteria phyla. ...Taken together, our results suggest that humans are exposed to substantially different bacteria depending on the types of fresh produce they consume with differences between conventionally and organically farmed varieties contributing to this variation.

Fresh produce, including apples, grapes, lettuce, peaches, peppers, spinach, sprouts, and tomatoes, are known to harbor large bacterial populations [1][7], but we are only just beginning to explore the diversity of these produce-associated communities. We do know that important human pathogens can be associated with produce (e.g., L. monocytogenes, E. coli, Salmonella), and since fresh produce is often consumed raw, such pathogens can cause widespread disease outbreaks [8][11]. In addition to directly causing disease, those microbes found in produce may have other, less direct, impacts on human health. Exposure to non-pathogenic microbes associated with plants may influence the development of allergies [12], and the consumption of raw produce may represent an important means by which new lineages of commensal bacteria are introduced into the human gastrointestinal system. 

Although variable, taxonomic richness levels differed among the eleven produce types (P<0.001) with richness being highest on peaches, alfalfa sprouts, apples, peppers, and mushrooms and lowest on bean sprouts and strawberries (Fig. 1). Bacterial communities were highly diverse regardless of the produce type with between 17 and 161 families being represented on the surfaces of each produce type. However, the majority of these families were rare; on average, only 3 to 13 families were represented by at least two sequences per produce type.

Furthermore, pairwise tests revealed that the community composition on the surface of each produce type differed significantly from one another. Still, certain produce types shared more similar community structure than others. On average, tree fruits (apples and peaches) tended to share communities that were more similar in composition than they were to those on other produce types, and produce typically grown closer to the soil surface (spinach, lettuce, tomatoes, and peppers) shared communities relatively similar in composition. Surface bacterial communities on grapes and mushrooms were each strongly dissimilar from the other produce types studied.

 Perhaps a nutrient deficit is associated with depression? This study found that eating a Mediterranean diet or a similar diet in which fruits, vegetables, legumes (beans), nuts, and low in processed meats is associated with lower rates of depression. From Medical Xpress:

Fruit and vegetables aren't only good for a healthy body—they protect your mind too

Eating a Mediterranean diet or other healthy dietary pattern, comprising of fruit, vegetables, legumes, and nuts and low in processed meats, is associated with preventing the onset of depression, according to research published in the open access journal BMC Medicine. A large study of 15,093 people suggests depression could be linked with nutrient deficits..

The researchers compared three diets; the Mediterranean diet, the Pro-vegetarian Dietary Pattern and Alternative Healthy Eating Index-2010. Participants used a scoring system to measure their adherence to the selected diet, i.e. the higher the dietary score indicated that the participant was eating a healthier diet. Food items such as meat and sweets (sources of animal fats: saturated and trans fatty acids) were negatively scored, while nuts, fruits and vegetables (sources of omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins and minerals respectively) were positively scored.

The study included 15,093 participants free of depression at the beginning of the study. They are former students of the University of Navarra, Spain, registered professionals from some Spanish provinces and other university graduates....Questionnaires to assess dietary intake were completed at the start of the project and again after 10 years. A total of 1,550 participants reported a clinical diagnosis of depression or had used antidepressant drugs after a median follow-up of 8.5 years.

The Alternative Healthy Eating Index-2010 was associated with the greatest reduction of risk of depression but most of the effect could be explained by its similarity with the Mediterranean Diet. Thus, common nutrients and food items such as omega-3 fatty acids, vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts and moderate alcohol intake present in both patterns (Alternative Healthy Eating Index-2010 and Mediterranean diet) could be responsible for the observed reduced risk in depression associated with a good adherence to the Alternative Healthy Eating Index-2010.

Almudena Sanchez-Villegas says, "A threshold effect may exist. The noticeable difference occurs when participants start to follow a healthier diet. Even a moderate adherence to these healthy dietary patterns was associated with an important reduction in the risk of developing depression. However, we saw no extra benefit when participants showed high or very high adherence to the diets....This dose-response pattern is compatible with the hypothesis that suboptimal intake of some nutrients (mainly located in low adherence levels) may represent a risk factor for future depression."

Two recent meta-analyses of studies looked at depression. The first found that in 12 out of 26 studies eating fish (but NOT fish-oil supplements) was linked to lower rates of depression. The researchers hypothesize that "Fish is rich in multiple beneficial nutrients, including n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, high-quality protein, vitamins, and minerals." Another meta-analysis looked at dietary patterns and depression and found that a high intake of fruit, vegetables, fish, and whole grains may be associated with a reduced depression risk. From Medscape:  Fish-Rich Diet May Significantly Reduce Depression Risk

Once again, research shows that eating lots of fruits and vegetables is beneficial to health - this time because high vitamin C concentrations in the blood is linked to lower risks of developing cardiovascular disease and early death. And it's food that they looked at, not supplements. From Science Daily:

Vitamin C related to reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, early death

New research from the University of Copenhagen and Herlev and Gentofte Hospital showshealth benefitsthat high vitamin C concentrations in the blood from the intake of fruit and vegetables are associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and early death.

As part of the study, the researchers had access to data about 100,000 Danes and their intake of fruit and vegetables as well as their DNA. "We can see that those with the highest intake of fruit and vegetables have a 15% lower risk of developing cardiovascular disease and a 20% lower risk of early death compared with those who very rarely eat fruit and vegetables. At the same time, we can see that the reduced risk is related to high vitamin C concentrations in the blood from the fruit and vegetables," says Camilla Kobylecki, a medical doctor and PhD student at the Department of Clinical Biochemistry, Herlev and Gentofte Hospital.

Among other things, vitamin C helps build connective tissue which supports and connects different types of tissues and organs in the body. Vitamin C is also a potent antioxidant which protects cells and biological molecules from the damage which causes many diseases, including cardiovascular disease. The human body is not able to produce vitamin C, which means that we must get the vitamin from our diet.

Nice summary of cancer prevention advice. What it boils down to is that there is no magic bullet for cancer prevention (maybe the closest thing is to NOT smoke), but it's a lot of little things adding up (your lifestyle) that lowers the risk of cancer. From The Washington Post:

Looking for that fruit or vegetable that might prevent cancer?

Blueberries. Green tea. Tomatoes. And, oh, that cruciferous cauliflower. All make the lists of super foods that might help prevent cancer. Then there are the foods such as smoked meat and fried foods that supposedly might cause cancer. Such information is standard fare for TV doctors and Web sites, but most of us don’t know how to judge such claims. What sounds authoritative may not be. Only about half of the recommendations on two internationally syndicated TV medical talk shows were supported by scientific evidence, according to a recent study in the journal BMJ.

Of course, the blueberries we eat today are good for us. But nutrition’s role in cancer prevention is much more complex than a single dietary component: Evidence has mounted, for example, that lifestyle — diet, weight control and exercise — is vital in helping reduce risk. For now, experts endorse general dietary advice that is healthful for a variety of chronic diseases and conditions, rather than reductionist thinking that focuses on single foods or nutrients.

When you hear that a certain food helps prevent cancer, ask: Which cancer? “Cancer is multiple diseases,” said Marian Neuhouser, a nutritional epidemiologist at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle. Whereas cardiovascular disease might be broken down into several types, including myocardial infarction, stroke and peripheral vascular disease, she said, “for cancer, it’s really over 100 different diseases.” “Cancer is a very complex, very challenging disease to study whether you’re looking at it on the cell level or the clinical level or the epidemiologic and preventive level,” Willett said.

Researchers caution about overreacting to a single study. New findings come out every week, but “we never take any one study to be the answer to anything,” said Nancy Potischman, a nutritional epidemiologist at the National Cancer Institute. Only if the same results come up in multiple studies across multiple populations, “then you might think that, yes, this food might be important,” she said.

Tobacco use remains the leading preventable cause of cancer incidence and death worldwide. After tobacco, the lifestyle trio of diet, weight control and exercise may be linked to one-third to two-thirds of cancers. “They’re inseparable,” Neuhouser said. “You can have a great diet and you can have a healthy weight, but if you’re extremely sedentary then there’s a risk.”And there’s a strong link between excess weight and several kinds of cancer, including the esophagus, breast (after menopause), endometrium, colon and rectum, kidney, pancreas, thyroid, gallbladder, according to the NCI. 

Evidence mounts about how lifestyle may affect risk of cancer. In the largest study of its kind, nearly half a million Americans were evaluated for adherence to American Cancer Society cancer prevention guidelines that include smoking avoidance; a healthful, consistent weight; physical activity; limiting alcohol; and a diet emphasizing plants.

Those who followed the guidelines most closely had lowered risk of developing cancer (10 percent for men, 19 percent for women) and dying from cancer (25 percent for men, 24 percent for women) compared with those whose habits were least in line with the guidelines. Most striking was the reduction of overall risk of dying: 26 percent for men, 33 percent for women during the 14-year study period.

Fourteen types of cancer seemed affected by lifestyle behavior, most particularly gallbladder, endometrial, liver and colorectal. For men and women, a healthful weight and physical activity were the top factors in reduced deaths overall. Albert Einstein College of Medicine Researchers published this analysis online in January in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, based on data from a National Institutes of Health/AARP study.

Another approach to cancer and nutrition considers dietary patterns. “What we eat on any one day is not going to change our cancer risk, but it’s the pattern over the long term.” Neuhouser said. Several diets that emphasized fruit, vegetables, whole grains and plants or plant-based proteins were analyzed against information collected over more than 12 years from nearly 64,000 post-menopausal women in the Women’s Health Initiative Observational Study. Consuming a high-quality diet was associated with lower death rates from chronic diseases including cancer, as reported last year in the American Journal of Epidemiology.

The bacteria, viruses and other organisms that live in and on humans seem to play a bigger role in health and disease than was previously understood, Freudenheim said. How the countless microbes in such areas as the gut and the mouth might contribute to or prevent cancers is one of the open questions in the new area of study of the microbiome, which refers to the many organisms in the body, 10 percent of which are human and 90 percent nonhuman.

Well DUH, of course eating organic foods lowers pesticide exposures. And yes, it can be measured in your body. So, as previous studies have shown, replacing regular fruits and vegetables (conventionally grown) with organic fruits and vegetables will lower your exposure to pesticides and the levels in your body. And why is this important? Research shows health effects from pesticides, so it is healthier for you to lower your pesticide exposures - whether from eating food, or from your house and your yard (breathing it in, getting it on skin).From Science Daily:

Organic food reduces pesticide exposure

While health-conscious individuals understand the benefits of eating fresh fruits and veggies, they may not be aware of the amount of pesticides they could be ingesting along with their vitamin C and fiber. A new study to be published in the Feb. 5 edition of Environmental Health Perspectives is among the first to predict a person's pesticide exposure based on information about their usual diet.

Curl and her colleagues analyzed the dietary exposure of nearly 4,500 people from six U.S. cities to organophosphates (OPs), the most common insecticides used on conventionally grown produce in the United States. OP pesticides are linked to a number of detrimental health effects, particularly among agricultural workers who are regularly exposed to the chemicals.

Results showed that among individuals eating similar amounts of fruits and vegetables, those who reported eating organic produce had significantly lower OP pesticide exposures than those consuming conventionally grown produce. In addition, consuming those conventionally grown foods typically treated with more of these pesticides during production, including apples, nectarines and peaches, was associated with significantly higher levels of exposure. "For most Americans, diet is the primary source of OP pesticide exposure," said Curl "The study suggests that by eating organically grown versions of those foods highest in pesticide residues, we can make a measurable difference in the levels of pesticides in our bodies."

The researchers were able to predict each participant's exposure to OP pesticides based on the amount and type of produce each participant typically ate and the U.S. Department of Agriculture's measurements of pesticide residue levels on those foods. The researchers then compared these predictions to pesticide metabolite levels measured in urine samples from a subset of 720 of these people.

"The next step is to use these exposure predictions to examine the relationship between dietary exposure to pesticides and health outcomes, including neurological and cognitive endpoints. We'll be able to do that in this same population of nearly 4,500 people," she said.

One way people can reduce their pesticide exposure, said Curl, is to eat organic versions of those foods that are listed on the Environmental Working Group's "Dirty Dozen" list, which ranks fruits and vegetables according to pesticide residue level.