According to a study conducted by UCLA cancer researchers, people who are tobacco smokers eat three servings of fruits and vegetables each day and drink green or black tea so as to protect themselves from lung cancer.
The UCLA researchers found that the smokers who consumed high levels of natural chemicals in their diet known as flavonoids had a low risk of developing lung cancer. This study has brought vital findings as more than 90 percent of lung cancers occurred due to tobacco smoking.
“What we found was extremely interesting, that several types of flavonoids are associated with a reduced risk of lung cancer among smokers,” said Dr. Zuo-Feng Zhang, a researcher at UCLA’s Jonsson Cancer Center and a professor of public health and epidemiology. “The findings were especially interesting because tobacco smoking is the major risk factor for lung cancer.”
What are Flavonoids? Flavonoids are nothing but water-soluble plant pigments which have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties and both of these tend to damage the tissues. The UCLA studies researchers examined 558 people with lung cancer and 837 people didn’t have lung cancer and also analyzes their history of diet intake.
The researchers established that participants who used to eat food which included certain flavonoids were found to be guarded from developing lung cancer. Zhang commented that flavonoids which seemed to be most protective contained catechin which is found in strawberries and green and black teas, kaempferol, Brussels sprouts, quercetin and even in beans, onions and apples.
All these abovementioned food items might give the smokers an indication to stock up teas, apples, beans and strawberries. But Zhang said that smokers should rather quit smoking; although eating fruits and vegetables and consuming more black and green teas wouldn’t cause any harm to the body.
“Since this study is the first of its type, I would usually be hesitant to make any recommendations to people about their diet,” Zhang said. “We really need to have several larger studies with similar results to confirm our finding. However, it’s not a bad idea for everyone to eat more fruits and vegetables and drink more tea.”
There is one more benefit of flavonoids which aids against lung cancer. Flavonoids block the formation of blood vessels and stop the tumors from starting to grow and spreading and this process is known as angiogenesis. And it also withdraws the growth of cancer cells, letting the naturally programmed cell death, or apoptosis, to occur.
The reason behind the development of lung cancer, according to Zhang, is that the antioxidant properties present in the flavonoids work to counteract the DNA damaging effects of tobacco smoking.
“The naturally occurring chemicals may be working to reduce the damage caused by smoking,” Zhang said.
Zhang said that further there would be laboratory-based studies of flavonoids on cell lines and animal models to check how they guard smokers from developing lung cancer. Also other types of studies would be required to know the protective effects of flavonoids relating to smoking which causes cancers, such as bladder, head and neck and kidney cancers.
Zhang and his team are also thinking to study as to which variety of fruits and vegetables contain high levels of flavonoids which will prove to be helpful in this study and what is the optimal number of servings per day that would provide maximum protection.
The study has been published this month in the journal Cancer.