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Diet & Health : Cancer Last Updated: Apr 20, 2011 - 9:38:09 AM

Fruits and Veggies Team Up to Fight Breast Cancer
By the American Institute for Cancer Research
Oct 11, 2007 - 8:21:25 PM

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AICR Ever Green, Ever Healthy
October 2007
Topic: Cancer

Fruits and Veggies Team Up to Fight Breast Cancer

By the American Institute for Cancer Research

When it comes to recurrence, breast cancer survivors can do a lot more than cross their fingers, according to a recent study.  The study tracked female breast cancer suvivors, starting two years after their recovery.  Breast cancer recurrence was lower for survivors who ate a diet rich in fruits and vegetables after treatment, compared to survivors who did not.  Eating fruits and vegetables raises blood levels of nutrients called carotenoids, which might be the reason the first group had lowered cancer risk.  And even though the results of similar studies are inconsistent, cancer experts at the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) insist eating a plant-based diet may be essential to cancer prevention.

 The breast cancer study analyzed a population of 1,500 female breast cancer survivors, two years after entering remission.  The population was divided into two groups: the group with higher levels of carotenoids (fruit and vegetable eaters), and the other being the group with lower levels (those who did not eat fruits and vegetables regularly).  After seven years, the first group demonstrated 43% less risk of developing breast cancer than the second.

 Many people know itís important to eat fruits and vegetables as part of a healthy diet, but are unsure why these foods may help to prevent cancer.  Carotenoids are molecules that may help block or repair damaged cells that might otherwise become cancerous.  They also may also slow the growth of cancer cells and stop the self-destruction of healthy cells.  Carotenoids are present in plant foods like fruits and veggies, which is why it may be beneficial to eat them to prevent cancer.

 Carotenoids are mostly found in orange, yellow, dark red and green fruits and vegetables.  But instead of just focusing on these colors, try to eat an overall variety of fruits and vegetables, since others also may also be cancer protective.  For instance, some studies show that purple, green and white fruits and veggies also may offset development of cancer, due to their cancer-fighting phytochemicals.

This breast cancer study is not subject to the human error of similar studies that rely on participants to report daily consumption.  Instead, it reports a precise numeric value of carotenoid levels in the blood.  This type of study suggests that it is a wise choice to regularly eat fruits and vegetables, regardless of your cancer status.


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