Increased consumption of fruit and vegetables and future cancer incidence in selected European countries
Cancer is one of the major causes of death in western countries. Fruit and vegetable consumption may reduce the risk of cancers of the oropharynx, oesophagus, lung, stomach and colorectum. We investigated the potential effect of interventions aimed at increasing the intake of fruits and vegetables to the recommended level (500 g/d) on future cancer incidence in Europe. Data on cancer incidence and daily intake of fruit and vegetables were compiled for France, Germany, The Netherlands, Spain and Sweden. We also performed a meta-analysis of European observational studies to arrive at a quantitative estimate on the association between fruit and vegetable intake and cancer risk. Predictions on the future cancer incidence were modelled using PREVENT 3.01. Our study predicted 212,000 fruit-and vegetable-related cancer cases in these countries in 2050, out of which 398 (0.19%) might be prevented if the 500 g/d fruit and vegetable intake were achieved in the aforementioned countries. The largest absolute impact was observed for lung cancer with 257 (out of 136,517) preventable cases if the intervention was successfully implemented. Sweden would benefit the most from intervention to increase fruit and vegetable consumption with a 2% reduction in expected cases. Increasing fruit and vegetable consumption has a small impact on reducing the burden of cancer in Europe. Health impact assessment tools such as PREVENT can provide the basis for decision making in chronic disease prevention.