MONDAY, Sept. 26 (HealthDay News) -- Eating fruits and vegetables may reduce the risk of some colorectal cancers, according to a new study.

Austrailian researchers examined the diets of 918 colorectal cancer patients and 1,021 people with no history of the disease and found that consumption of certain vegetables and fruits were associated with a decreased risk of cancer in the proximal and distal colon -- that is, the upper and lower portions of the colon.

Consumption of brassica vegetables (also known as cole crops) such as broccoli, kale, cauliflower, turnips and cabbage, for example, appeared to reduce the risk of cancer in the upper colon, while both total fruit and vegetable intake (and total vegetable intake alone) reduced the risk of cancer in the lower colon.

They also found that eating more apples and dark, yellow vegetables was linked with a significantly reduced risk of lower colon cancer.

Yet higher levels of fruit juice consumption were associated with an increased risk for rectal cancer.

The study appears in the October issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association.

"Fruits and vegetables have been examined extensively in nutritional research in relation to CRC (colorectal cancer), however, their protective effect has been subject to debate, possibly because of different effects on different subsites of the large bowel," lead investigator Professor Lin Fritschi, head of the Epidemiology Group at the Western Australian Institute for Medical Research, said in a journal news release.

"It may be that some of the confusion about the relationship between diet and cancer risk is due to the fact that previous studies did not take site of the [colorectal cancer] into account. The replication of these findings in large prospective studies may help determine whether a higher intake of vegetables is a means for reducing the risk" of cancer in the lower colon, Fritschi concluded.

More information

The U.S. National Cancer Institute has more about colorectal cancer prevention.