Eating certain fruits and vegetables appears to provide protection against lung cancer, according to research published on Tuesday.
The agents believed responsible are plant-derived compounds known as phytoestrogens found in soy products, grains, carrots, spinach, broccoli and other fruits and vegetables, the report from the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston said.
The compounds have been shown to have a protective effect against some solid tumors but there has been little research focused on dietary intake and lung cancer, the study added.
"Our main findings were that patients with lung cancer tended to consume lower amounts of phytoestrogens" than healthy people without the disease, the report said.
The apparent benefits were found in both people who never smoked and those who were still smoking but it was less evident in people who had quit smoking, for reasons that were not clear, the report added.
Smokers are 20 to 30 times more likely than non-smokers to contract lung cancer, one of the deadliest types of cancer, according to U.S. government figures.
The findings were based on a look at 1,674 lung cancer patients and 1,735 matched healthy people with similar backgrounds who were interviewed from July 1995 through October 2003, reports Reuters.
Accordfing to Daily Mail, a team of Danish researchers studied 11,151 men and 8,563 women for up to 31 years to assess the impact of smoking reduction on lung cancer.
The volunteers, aged 20 to 93, were divided into six groups according to their smoking habits.
One consisted of "heavy smokers", who consumed 15 or more cigarettes a day. Another group of "reducers" started off smoking 15 or more a day but cut down by at least 50%.
A third group of "continued light smokers" smoked one to 14 cigarettes a day, while "quitters" stopped smoking altogether during the study.
Stable ex-smokers, who quit before the investigation began, and people who never smoked made up the remaining two groups.