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Eur J Nutr. 2015 Mar;54(2):161-71. doi: 10.1007/s00394-014-0697-9. Epub 2014 Apr 17.

Can consumption of raw vegetables decrease the count of sister chromatid exchange? Results from a cross-sectional study in Krakow, Poland.

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Department of Epidemiology, Chair of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine, Jagiellonian University Medical College, 7 Kopernika St, Kraków, Poland,



Sister chromatid exchange (SCE) is a widely used sensitive cytogenetic biomarker of exposure to genotoxic and cancerogenic agents. Results of human monitoring studies and cytogenetic damage have revealed that biological effects of genotoxic exposures are influenced by confounding factors related to life-style. Vegetable and fruit consumption may play a role, but available results are not consistent. The purpose of the study was to investigate the effect of consumption of raw and cooked vegetables and fruits on SCE frequency.


A total of 62 participants included colorectal cancer (CRC) patients, hospital-based controls and healthy laboratory workers. SCE frequency was assessed in blood lymphocytes. Frequency of vegetable and fruit consumption was gathered by structured semi-quantitative food frequency questionnaire.


SCE frequency was lowest among hospital-based controls (4.4 ± 1.1), a bit higher in CRC patients (4.5 ± 1.0) and highest among laboratory workers (7.4 ± 1.2) (p < 0.05). Multivariable linear regression showed a significant inverse effect (b = -0.20) of raw vegetable consumption, but not so for intake of cooked vegetables and fruits.


The results of the study have shown the beneficial effect of consumption of raw vegetables on disrupted replication of DNA measured by SCE frequency, implying protection against genotoxic agents. Further effort is required to verify the role of cooked vegetables and fruits.

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