Eating fruit and vegetables does not offer protection against cancer, a major study published yesterday concluded.

Eating fruit and vegetables does not offer protection against cancer, a major study published yesterday concluded.

Researchers who analysed results from two surveys involving 100,000 people in the US found that those who ate the most fruit and vegetables had lower rates of heart disease but their "healthy" diets had no effect on the incidence of cancer.

The study's findings undermine one of the most basic tenets of the healthy lifestyle. Governments across the world have promoted the "5-a-day" strategy for increasing fruit and vegetable consumption as an important defence against cancer and other diseases. The efficacy of that strategy is now in doubt following yesterday's report in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. The research suggested thatthe risk of chronic disease, including both heart disease and cancer, was just 5 per cent lower in those who had the highest consumption of fruit and vegetables. "Consumption of five or more servings of fruits and vegetables has been recommended in the National '5-a-day' Better Health Programme for cancer prevention, but the protective effect of fruit and vegetable intake may have been overstated", the researchers wrote. However, they support the "5 a day" strategy because of its effect against heart disease.

Cancer Research UK issued a statement yesterday raising doubts about the accuracy of the study's findings.

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