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Health Agencies Update
February 24, 2010

Lung Cancer Protection

JAMA. 2010;303(8):722. doi:10.1001/jama.2010.164

Experts generally agree that quitting the smoking habit is of key importance in reducing mortality due to lung cancer. Now, a new study funded by the National Cancer Institute suggests former smokers (as well as current ones) might also receive some protective effects against developing lung cancer by eating a diet high in leafy green vegetables or folate.

The findings came from a multi-institutional analysis of data from the Lovelace Smokers Cohort, in which more than 1000 smokers and nonsmokers completed a questionnaire on their dietary habits and provided a sample of sputum (Stidley CA et al. Cancer Res. 2010;70[2]:568-574). The team found the lung cells of individuals with a greater intake of leafy greens or folate and those who took multivitamins were less likely to have epigenetic changes (hypermethylation of gene promoters) that silence the expression of genes that may help repair DNA or foster normal cell function.