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Vegetables linked to lower chance of deadlier type of breast cancer

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
High fruit and vegetable intake might thwart ER negative breast cancer.

Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables can lower a woman’s chance of breast cancer. At least that’s what we've been told. The truth is evidence is inconclusive that eating the likes of broccoli and cauliflower can stave off the disease. A new analysis suggests a less common and deadlier type of breast cancer - ER negative - might be prevented by high vegetable intake especially.

Researchers for the study explain since there are subtypes of breast cancer (ER+ and ER-) it’s important to sort how what impact diet has on each type.

ER negative breast cancer accounts for just 15 to 20 percent of cases. The subtype carries a poor prognosis and is not as dependent on estrogen as ER positive subtype for growth and spread.

Seungyoun Jung, Sc.D. at the Channing Division of Network Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital and colleagues analyzed 20 studies to find the risk of breast cancer among women who were followed 11 to 20 years.

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For the investigation, low intake of fruits and vegetables and breast cancer risk was compared in each study.

The results showed eating fruits and veggies when associated with lower risk of ER negative breast cancer only, but not ER positive or overall risk of the disease. The finding also showed the biggest risk reduction came from eating primarily vegetables.

It’s also important to follow an overall healthy lifestyle to lower the chances of breast and other types of cancer, which may have contributed to the findings. Women who eat a healthful diet are also more likely to practice other healthy lifestyle behaviors.

The authors say studies are important for understanding how diet affects breast cancer subtypes that “may have been missed in smaller studies.”

Incorporating plenty of fruits and especially vegetables in your diet might help prevent ER negative breast cancer that isn't dependent on estrogen and only accounts for 15 to 20 percent of cases of the disease.

JNCI J Natl Cancer Inst (2013)
doi: 10.1093/jnci/djs635
January 24