RSSVibrant vegetables significantly prevent breast cancer

Posted on Tue, 5 May 15

Vibrant vegetables significantly prevent breast cancer

An important new 20-year study has found large reductions in breast cancer risk with higher intakes of carotenoids, the pigments that give dark green, red, yellow and orange vegetables their rich colors.

Carotenoids are a group of phytonutrients particularly high in dark green leafy, yellow, orange and red vegetables and are easy to identify, as they are the pigments responsible for the vibrant color of these beautiful foods.

The major carotenoids in most people’s diets are alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, beta-cryptoxanthin, lutein, zeaxanthin, and lycopene, and considerable research has shown that they have anti-cancer effects, with a number of human studies showing regular intake of carotenoid containing foods may reduce risk of breast cancer.

In a new study, the association between blood levels of carotenoids and breast cancer risk was investigated over a 20-year period. It was not only the first study of this duration, but the first to look at links to molecular subtypes of cancer and recurrent or lethal breast cancer.

The study found that higher concentrations of alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, lycopene, and total carotenoids were associated with 18-28% statistically significant lower risks of breast cancer.

Inverse associations with carotenoids were not different by estrogen receptor (ER) status but were stronger for more-aggressive tumors. For the subset of tumors that recurred or caused death, inverse associations with plasma carotenoids were considerably stronger with a 46% reduction in risk in top quintiles of alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, beta-cryptoxanthin, and total carotenoids.

“In this large prospective analysis with 20 years of follow-up, women with high plasma carotenoids were at reduced breast cancer risk particularly for more aggressive and ultimately fatal disease,” concluded the investigators.

If you want to increase your intake of carotenoids just look for richly colored red, yellow, orange and dark green fruits, vegetables, spices and herbs; spinach, kale, parsley, pink grapefruit, pumpkin, carrots, squash, tomatoes, red peppers, dandelion greens, sweet potato, papaya, oranges, tangerines, cantaloupe, watermelon, nectarines, and paprika are some of the best sources - and you should widen your color palate, as variety will give you a wider spectrum.


Eliassen AH, Liao X, Rosner B, Tamimi RM, Tworoger SS, Hankinson SE. Plasma carotenoids and risk of breast cancer over 20 y of follow-up. Am J Clin Nutr. 2015 Apr 15. pii: ajcn105080. [Epub ahead of print]

Tags: Breast Cancer, Green Leafy Vegetables, Carotenoids, Phytonutrients

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