A new Harvard study shows that women who eat a high amount of fruits and vegetables each day may have a lower risk of breast cancer, especially of aggressive tumors, than those who eat fewer fruits and vegetables.
In the study, cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, and yellow and orange vegetables, had a very strong link to lower breast cancer risk.
In the study, the team analyzed diet questionnaires from participants in the Nurses’ Health Study (88,301 women, starting in 1980) and the Nurses’ Health Study II (93,844 women, starting in 1991).
They found that women who ate more than 5.5 servings of fruits and vegetables each day had an 11% lower risk of breast cancer than those who ate 2.5 or fewer servings.
(A serving is defined as one cup of raw leafy vegetables, half a cup of raw or cooked vegetables, or half a cup of chopped or cooked fruits.)
To find out whether the benefits of fruit and vegetable consumption differed among various types of breast cancers, the researchers conducted an analysis by tumor hormone receptor status and molecular subtype.
They found that eating more fruits and vegetables was particularly linked to lower risk of more aggressive tumors including ER-negative, HER2-enriched, and basal-like tumors.
Previously, the group had linked reduced breast cancer risk with higher fiber intake, but the benefits of fruits and vegetables found in this study appear to be independent of their fiber content.
This suggests that other constituents of these foods, such as antioxidants and other micronutrients, may also be important in reducing breast cancer risk.
The team suggests that their research provides the most complete picture of the importance of consuming high amounts of fruit and vegetables for breast cancer prevention.
Women should increase their intake of fruits and vegetables to reduce their breast cancer risk.
The study is published in the International Journal of Cancer.
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