Published in the 1 May issue of the International Journal of Cancer (vol 114, issue 5, pp817-23), the study investigated the dietary patterns of 585 pancreatic cancer patients and 4,779 controls without the disease.
Men with the highest fruit and vegetable intakes were about half as likely to develop pancreatic cancer as those with the lowest intakes, write the researchers from the University of Montreal. They could not explain why there was no clear association between diet and pancreatic cancer risk among women.
A 'Western' diet, including a high intake of processed foods and refined grains, and alcohol consumption, did not appear to affect risk.
The findings are important as they add to a growing body of evidence linking diet to pancreatic cancer prevention. This form of cancer has one of the lowest survival rates, with less than 5 per cent of patients still alive five years after diagnosis. Identifying factors to reduce risk of the disease is therefore vital.
In a separate study on the same group published in the March issue of the Journal of Nutrition, the same team found that the tomato compound lycopene appeared to protect against pancreatic cancer, again, only men.
Pancreatic cancer is the eighth most common cancer in women, and the 11th most common cancer in men in the UK. Each year, there are almost 3,600 new cases in women, and over 3,300 cases in men.