M.D. Anderson research suggests that by simply eating four or more servings of green salad a week and working in the  garden once or twice a week, smokers and nonsmokers alike may be able to  substantially reduce the risk of developing lung cancer, say researchers at The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer  Center .

“This  is the first risk prediction model to examine the effects of diet and physical  activity on the possibility of developing lung cancer,” says Michele R. Forman,  Ph.D., lead author of the study and a professor in M. D. Anderson's Department of  Epidemiology.

Forman presented study results at the American Association for  Cancer Research “Frontiers in Cancer Prevention Research” meeting Dec. 7 in  Philadelphia, Pa.

The data are from an ongoing M. D. Anderson case-control lung  cancer study involving more than 3,800 participants.

Separate epidemiologic  risk assessment models were developed for current and former smokers as well as for those who have never smoked.

Forman's  study looked at salad consumption and gardening because, “salad is a marker for  the consumption of many vegetables and gardening is an activity in which  smokers and nonsmokers can participate.”

The  baseline lung cancer prediction model had moderate risk protection.

The study  pairs M.D. Anderson lung cancer patients with cancer-free current, former and  never smoker counterparts provided through a partnership with Kelsey-Seybold  Clinic, a Houston-based HMO.

“This  finding is exciting because not only is it applicable to everyone, but it also  may have a positive impact on the 15 percent of non-smokers who develop lung  cancer,” says Forman. The other risk factors include exposure to secondhand  smoke and dust, family history of cancer and the patient’s history of  respiratory disease and smoking.