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NMU 97 – Fruit and Vegetable Intake Strongly Linked to Reduced Breast Cancer Risk

Nutrition / Natural Medicine Update No 97 (July 25, 2018)

with Dr. James Meschino


Topic: Fruit and Vegetable Intake Strongly Linked to Reduced Breast Cancer Risk

Source: International Journal of Cancer (July 2018)


An important study was published in the International Journal of Cancer in July 2018 regarding Breast Cancer Prevention. Although prior studies have suggested an association between higher fruit and vegetable intake and reduced risk of breast cancer, the studies had some limitations, explained the first author of this current study, Maryam Farvid.  She went on to state that “This {current research} study (published July 2018) provides the most complete picture of the importance of consuming high amounts of fruit and vegetables for breast cancer prevention.”

In the study the researchers analyzed diet questionnaires submitted every four years by 182,145 women initially aged 27-59y in the Nurses’ Health Study (NHS, 1980-2012) and NHSII (1991-2013). Data on other potential breast cancer risk factors such as age, weight, smoking status, and family cancer history were also assessed. The results of the study showed that women who ate more than 5.5 servings of fruits and vegetables each day had an 11% lower risk of breast cancer than those who ate 2.5 or fewer servings. (A serving is defined as one cup of raw leafy vegetables, half a cup of raw or cooked vegetables, or half a cup of chopped or cooked fruits.). Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, and yellow and orange vegetables, showed a very strong association with lower breast cancer risk. They also found that higher consumption of fruits and vegetables was associated with lower risk of more aggressive tumors, including ER-negative, HER2-positive, and basal-like tumors.

Previous work by this research group linked reduced breast cancer risk with higher fiber intake, but the benefits of fruits and vegetables found in this study appear to be independent of their fiber content, according to the researchers. This suggests that other constituents in these foods, such as antioxidants, phytonutrients, and other micronutrients, may also be important in reducing breast cancer risk.

The bottom line remains that women should pay close attention to ingesting at least 5 fruit and vegetable servings per day, being mindful to make at least one of them a cruciferous vegetable (broccoli, Brussel sprouts, cabbage cauliflower, bok choy, turnips), as these exhibit multi-faceted anticancer and detoxification properties. The carotenes and flavonoids in orange and yellow vegetables appear to also show impressive protective value against breast cancer.

Remaining at one’s ideal weight, participating in regular exercise, ingesting adequate fiber, reducing intake of saturated fats, trans-fats, deep fried foods, and alcohol, and maintaining a vitamin D blood level above 85 nmol/L, are other lifestyle strategies strongly associated with a significant reduction in breast cancer risk, according to published studies.

I have included a link to the July 2018 study in the text below. The authors of the study conclude,” our findings support that higher intake of fruits and vegetables, and specifically cruciferous and yellow/orange vegetables, may reduce the risk of breast cancer, especially those that are more likely to be aggressive tumors.


Maryam S. Farvid, Wendy Y. Chen, Bernard A. Rosner, Rulla M. Tamimi, Walter C. Willett, A. Heather Eliassen. Fruit and vegetable consumption and breast cancer incidence: Repeated measures over 30 years of follow-upInternational Journal of Cancer, 2018;


Eat Smart, Live Well, Look Great

Dr. Meschino

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