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Diet High In Fruits, Vegetables Does Not Increase Breast Cancer Survival Rates

Armen Hareyan's picture

A diet that surpasses government recommendations for daily servingsof fruits and vegetables does not boost breast cancer survival rates inwomen, according to a study published on Wednesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association, the Chicago Tribune reports (Peres, Chicago Tribune, 7/18).

Forthe study, researchers tracked 3,088 women who had been treatedsuccessfully for early stage breast cancer. Women enrolled in the studybetween 1995 and 2000 and were tracked for six to 11 years (Reuters/Washington Times,7/18). Participants were split into two groups: a control group thatfollowed federal nutrition guidelines and a group that was instructedto consume nearly twice as much produce -- eight servings of fruits andvegetables, plus 16 ounces of fresh vegetable juice -- as thegovernment recommends per day (Allday, San Francisco Chronicle, 7/18).

Participantsin the group consuming extra fruits and vegetables were permitted toeat meat but were instructed to consume no more than 20% of totalcalories from fat, a goal which they ultimately were unable toaccomplish (AP/Detroit Free Press,7/18). Over the course of the study, 17% of women in both groups had arecurrence of breast cancer, while 10% in both groups died, 80% of themfrom breast cancer (Reuters/Washington Times, 7/18).

Asubanalysis of the study found that women who consumed five servings offruits and vegetables per day and exercised by walking 30 minutes dailyfive times per week showed the best response. The National Cancer Institute contributed $30 million toward the study, and Wal-Mart heir John Walton contributed $5 million (McClain, Arizona Daily Star, 7/18).

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Future Research, Comments

John Pierce, head of cancer prevention at the University of California-San Diego and lead study author, said that he and fellow study author Lovell Jones, a professor of medicine at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center,would continue to analyze the study results to see whether certaingroups -- such as black women, those with certain genetic profiles andpost-menopausal women -- benefit from additional servings of fruits andvegetables. Pierce said, "I went into the study expecting to see adifference between the two groups. I don't think anyone expected awashout like this" (Ackerman, Houston Chronicle, 7/18).

CT Scans Might Boost Cancer Risk, Study Says

In related news, another study published in JAMA on Wednesday found that high-resolution CT heart scans might boost young women's risk of developing cancer, USA Today reports. High-resolution scans known as 64-slice CT scans were approved by FDA in 2004 (Sternberg, USA Today, 7/18). The scans, which are designed to help rule out heart disease, give 20 times the amount of radiation as a mammogram.

Forthe study, researchers estimated the radiation dose to each organ fromthe machine. They then used statistical analysis to estimate the riskof cancer to each organ based on age and sex (Mishra, San Francisco Chronicle,7/18). The researchers found that one of every 143 women who arescanned once at age 20 will get cancer, typically of the breast -- arate that is 23 times higher than the one-in-3,261 chance of developingcancer for an 80-year-old man. The study found that the risk decreasesto one-in-284 for 40-year-old women. Men at age 40 have a one-in-1,241risk of developing lung cancer from a high-resolution CT scan, thestudy found.

Experts say that the findings should notdiscourage people from getting the scans but should dissuade peoplefrom getting the scans without first seeking medical advice from adoctor (San Francisco Chronicle, 7/18). Lead author Andrew Einstein of the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeonssaid, "The magnitude of this risk is something we hadn't appreciated,"adding, "If you look at older men, the risk is very small, but for awoman younger than 40 or 50, I'm going to be hesitant (to use it)" (USA Today, 7/18).

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