01/12/2010 05:11 GMT | Updated 22/05/2015 06:12 BST

Being Slim, Not Eating Fruit And Veg, Reduces Cancer Risk

Being slim helps reduce your cancer risk Being slim helps reduce your risk for cancer. Photo: Flickr, lululemon athletica

Health experts have been telling us to eat five portions of fruit and veg a day to stay healthy since the 1970s. But where cancer is concerned what you eat may not be that important, say Oxford University experts.

Instead, how much you eat may be far more relevant. Writing in the British Journal of Cancer, the scientists discovered the only factors that affect your risk of developing cancer in terms of what you eat and drink are obesity and alcohol (though smoking is still the single biggest cause of cancer overall).

That's not to say there are no health benefits of eating fruit and veg - after all, you're probably more likely to be slim if you do eat a lot of fresh produce - but there's little evidence that they actually protect against cancer, the researchers claim.

The study, which involved reviewing the lifestyles of more than a million people over a period of 10 years, also suggests drinking too much may raise your chances of developing cancer, since alcohol produces a chemical that might damage cells when it's broken down by the body.

So despite the government recommending two to three units of alcohol a day for women (and three to four for men), cancer experts are suggesting one small drink a day is ideal for women (two for men) in terms of keeping your cancer risk as low as possible.

Of course it's not the first time scientists have linked obesity with cancer, with many studies suggesting exercise lowers your risk too.

Do you find healthy eating advice too confusing?

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