Breast cancer: can eating fruit & veg reduce risk?
Research from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health suggests women eating lots of fruit and vegetables daily may have a lower risk of breast cancer, especially of aggressive tumours, than those who eat fewer fruits and vegetables. The study found cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, and yellow and orange vegetables, had a particular association with lower breast cancer risk. Indeed, the authors hailed the research as providing “the most complete picture of the importance of consuming high amounts of fruit and vegetables for breast cancer prevention.”
The researchers analysed diet questionnaires submitted every four years by participants in the Nurses’ Health Study (88,301 women, starting in 1980) and the Nurses’ Health Study II (93,844 women, starting in 1991). Data on other potential breast cancer risk factors were considered.
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, while higher consumption of fruits and vegetables was particularly associated with lower risk of more aggressive tumours.
Previous work by this linked higher fibre intake with reduced breast cancer risk, but the benefits found in this study appear to be independent of the fibre content, suggesting other constituents, such as antioxidants and other micronutrients, may also be important in reducing breast cancer risk.
The big takeaway – yet more research suggesting the health benefits from a diet high in fruits and vegetables is wide ranging. Here in Spain, where the consumption of fresh fruit and vegetables is very high, it’s worth noting that according to the figures from Eurostat, death rates from breast cancer for Spanish females are the lowest in the EU at 23.4 per 100,000 inhabitants. This compares to a European average of 32.7, with 35.9 in Germany, 34.4 in the U.K., 33.0 in France and 31.5 in Italy. Croatia top the table at 43.1.
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