Scientists have shown that eating spinach could partially offset the risks of developing the cancers associated with a carcinogen in cooked meat.
The team at the Oregon State University (OSU) used tests on animals to show how the consumption of spinach reduced the incidence of bowel cancer from 58 per cent to 32 per cent.
Currently surgery is the only definitive cure for the disease, according to Bowel & Cancer Research.
Researchers believe the findings could help develop understanding about the role of epigenetics in cancer.
This field of study looks at how environmental factors such as diet alter gene expression to subsequently cause cancer - even when the DNA sequence remains intact and unaltered.
"Cancer development is a complex, multi-step process, with damaged cells arising through various means," said Mansi Parasramka, a postdoctoral scholar with OSU.
She added that this particular study had revealed alterations of microRNAs - which affect how DNA is expressed - change cancer stem cell markers in bowel cancer formation.