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Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 1999 Oct;8(10):919-24.

Exploring the feasibility and effects of a high-fruit and -vegetable diet in healthy women.

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Cancer Research Center of Hawaii, Honolulu 96813, USA.


Based on reports that fruits and vegetables may protect against breast cancer, this randomized intervention study tested the feasibility of increasing fruit and vegetable intake among healthy women to 9 daily servings through individual dietary counseling and group activities. Adherence to the dietary recommendations was monitored by 24-h food recalls, log sheets, and plasma carotenoid assessments. To explore possible cancer protective mechanisms of fruits and vegetables, we investigated the treatment effect on plasma phenol levels and on thiobarbituric acid-reactive substances measured as malondialdehyde equivalents, a possible marker of oxidative damage. At baseline, women in the intervention (n = 13) and control (n = 16) group reported an average daily consumption of 3.3 and 3.2 fruit and vegetable servings, respectively. After 3 and 6 months of intervention, intake in the intervention group had increased to 8.3 and 7.4 servings, whereas the control group reported an average of 4.2 and 4.1 daily servings. An increase of plasma carotenoid levels from 1249 microg/liter at baseline to 1854 and 1827 microg/liter after 3 and 6 months confirmed compliance with the dietary recommendations in the intervention group. Plasma carotenoid levels among controls changed slightly from 1165 to 1231 and 1291 microg/liter Whereas total phenol levels did not respond according to our hypothesis, malondialdehyde levels decreased slightly in the intervention group. These results suggest that motivated women can substantially increase their fruit and vegetable intake, which leads to a notable increase in plasma carotenoid levels.

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