Increasing Vegetable Intake May Decrease Breast Cancer Risk in African-American Women

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A study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology reported that African-American women who consumed more vegetables had a lower risk of breast cancer than those who ate fewer vegetables. Looking at data from the Black Women’s Health Study that followed 59,000 women investigators followed 51,928 of these women for 12 years. During that time 1,268 developed breast cancer and among those in whom hormone receptor status was known, 35% were estrogen receptor-negative/progesterone receptor negative (ER-/PR-) breast cancers. Comparing women who ate at least two vegetables a day with those who ate fewer than four vegetables a week, they found a 43% lower incidence of ER-/PR- breast cancer in the group who ate more vegetables. The prognosis of estrogen receptor-negative tumors are more likely among African American women than white women and carry a poorer prognosis than estrogen-receptor-positive tumors.

Certain vegetables may offer more protection according to the researchers. Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, mustard and collard greens, and cabbage are sources of glucosinolates and may help reduce the risk by effecting estrogen metabolism and detoxification enzymes. Increased carrot consumption also was related to decreased risk of breast cancer possibly through their antioxidant properties.

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