Lowered Breast Cancer Risk Linked to Fruits and Vegetables.

A new study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute on the 6th of December 2012 strongly correlates a diet rich in fruits and vegetables with a low risk of developing breast cancer.

Lead author A. Heather Eliassen, of the Channing Laboratory in the Department of Medicine at Brigham & Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School published the study utilizing analyzed data pooled from studies covering a total of 7,000 women (3,055 with breast cancer and 3,956 matched controls), and looked for links between breast cancer and total levels of circulating carotenoids, as well as individual ones.

The data  originated from 8 cohort studies that between them covered 80% of the data published around the world from prospective studies of blood and breast cancer and revealed a statistically significant inverse association between breast cancer risk and circulating levels of total and individual carotenoids.

“This comprehensive prospective analysis suggests women with higher circulating levels of alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, lutein+zeaxanthin, lycopene, and total may be at reduced risk of breast cancer.”

are yellow, orange, and red pigments found in plants.Orange and yellow vegetables like carrots and winter squash, are rich sources of alpha- and beta-carotene. Spinach is also a rich source of beta-carotene, although the chlorophyll in the leaves hides the yellow-orange pigment. Sweet potato and kale (a leaf vegetable from the cabbage family) also have high amounts of beta-carotene.

Dark green leafy vegetables like spinach, kale and turnip greens have the highest amounts of lutein and zeaxanthin, which although are separate compounds, studies often group them together.

Tomatoes are a rich source of lycopene, the carotenoid that also gives pink grapefruit, watermelon, and guava their red color.


Eliassen A. H. et al., Circulating Carotenoids and Risk of Breast Cancer: Pooled Analysis of Eight Prospective Studies.  JNCI J Natl Cancer Inst (2012).

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