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More Veggies, Fruit, Protein Lowers Leukemia Risk

In another great example of eating your way to better health, women who eat more vegetables, fruit and foods containing protein before pregnancy may have a lower risk of having a child who develops leukemia, the most common childhood cancer in the United States, according to a new study.

This marks the first time researchers have conducted a systematic survey of a woman's diet--using a 76-food-item questionnaire--and its relationship to the development of leukemia in a child.

The researchers compared 138 women who each had a child diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia with a control group of 138 women whose children did not have cancer. After comparing the women's diets in the 12 months prior to pregnancy, researchers found the higher the intake of vegetables, fruit and foods in the protein group, the lower the risk of having a child with leukemia.

Fetal exposure to nutritional factors has a lot to do with what a mother eats, according to one scientist. These results demonstrate how important it is that women hoping to get pregnant, as well as expectant moms, understand critical nutrients in vegetables, fruit and foods containing protein may protect the health of their unborn children.

Within the fruit and vegetable food groups, specific foods, including carrots, string beans and cantaloupe, stood out as having stronger links to lower childhood leukemia risk. Researchers point to the benefits of nutrients, such as carotenoids, in those foods as potential protective factors.

These results are consistent with research about the benefits of a diet high in fruits and vegetables in preventing adult cancers, scientists said.

Science Daily August 24, 2004

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