Vegetables containing Vitamin B can reduce the risk of mouth cancer in women, according to findings highlighted in the vegetable industry’s November consumer and market report, Veginsights, which profiles the fresh produce market, including avenues to lift vegetable consumption.

AUSVEG is the peak industry body representing the interest of over 9,000 Australian vegetable and potato growers.

AUSVEG spokesperson Erin Lyall said that Vitamin B could be found in vegetables that have high folic acid content, including lettuce, beans, asparagus and spinach.

“As part of this project, researchers observed and followed about 87,000 nurses for 30 years, from 1976 and they discovered that women who drank a high volume of alcohol and had a low folic acid intake were three times more likely to develop mouth cancer than those who drank a high level of alcohol, but had high volumes of folic acid in their diet,” Ms Lyall said.

The research, carried out by the Columbia University Medical Centre and the Harvard School of Public Health, found that high alcohol intake is associated with significantly increased oral cancer risk, especially in women with low folate intake.

“This research will encourage women to consume more green leafy vegetables, especially those that have a high folic acid content, to improve their general health and reduce their likelihood of suffering from mouth cancer,” Ms Lyall said.

Ms Lyall said that the research findings were vital evidence of a specific health benefit related to greater vegetable consumption.

“Indications from the Veginsights report are that establishing the direct link between specific health benefits and vegetable products is required in order to drive greater consumption beyond the normal ‘vegetable health benefit halo’ that most consumers already accept,” she said.

“These positive findings about preventative measures that can be taken by women will hopefully provide an extra boost for the vegetable industry, as women who are concerned about their health and wellbeing may be more likely to act on this information,” she said.

The research found that women were less likely to suffer from mouth cancer by increasing their folic acid intake found in Vitamin B, which can be achieved by eating more vegetables.

“Alcohol is one of the major risk factors for mouth cancer and by simply increasing consumption of vegetables such as spinach, beans, peas, lentils and asparagus you can reduce your risk of cancer.  Fruit juices, broccoli and brussel sprouts also contain vitamin B9 in smaller amounts,” Ms Lyall said.

The Veginsights report was produced by market analysis and consulting firm Freshlogic, and is part of the Vegetable Industry Development Program funded by the National Vegetable Levy with matched funds from the Australia Government.

MEDIA CONTACT: Erin Lyall, Communications Officer, AUSVEG
Phone: (03) 9822 0388, Email:, Mobile: 0400 931 696