Saturday, February 14, 2009

High Intake of Fruits and Vegetables may Lower Risk of Breast Cancer Relapse

(NaturalNews) The protective effects which one's diet, in particular fruits and vegetables, offers against cancer may, intuitively, seem to apply more to cancers which are related to the gastrointestinal tract, such as colon cancer, stomach cancer or intestinal cancer. On the other hand, for certain cancers, like those of the ovaries, prostate and breasts, one may be more inclined to believe that hormones play a bigger part. The truth, however, is that diet does play a significant role even in breast cancer. And a recent study has revealed that the consumption of good amounts of fruits and vegetables can reduce the risk of breast cancer recurrence by almost a third. This protective effect, however, only seemed to apply to certain women but not others.

Details of Study

The study team had looked at data pertaining to 3,000 breast cancer sufferers in a bid to analyze if low fat intake and consumption of high amounts of fruits and vegetables could play a part in preventing the return of the disease. Such a diet had previously already been linked to reduced breast cancer risk.

Half the women were told to consume 10 servings of fruits and vegetables every day, double the daily dose of 5 servings recommended by United States government agencies, as well as to boost fiber consumption and lower fat intake. This group was then compared with a group who were asked to stick to government guidelines. The average age of the study subjects was 53, and the study was published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Findings of Study

About 900 of the entire group of women reported not experiencing hot flashes which is a common side-effect of conventional breast cancer therapy. Analyzing the data on these subjects, the study team found that only 16% of those who doubled their fruit and vegetable intake suffered a relapse after 7 years, as compared to 23% of those in the control group. With specific regard to post-menopausal women, the reduction in risk was about 47%.

Hot Flashes, Estrogen and Breast Cancer

What is the significance here of hot flashes? After undergoing conventional breast cancer treatment, women who experienced hot flashes had been found to have lower levels of estrogen as compared to those who did not. And the reduced risk of breast cancer recurrence revealed by the study only applied to women who did not get hot flashes after their bout of conventional cancer therapy.

Now, estrogen is known to be an important factor in the most common kind of breast cancer. Put together, all this information implies that consuming additional servings of fruits and vegetables, much more than the government's suggested dose, could help in lowering the levels of estrogen in breast cancer survivors, thereby putting a lid on the possibility of relapse.

This distinguishing factor could help explain why, among previously conducted studies, some showed that increased fruit and vegetable intake could lower the risk of breast cancer relapse, while others did not come to the same conclusion.

"It appears that a dietary pattern high in fruits, vegetables and fiber, which has been shown to reduce circulating estrogen levels, may only be important among women with circulating estrogen levels above a certain threshold," said John Pierce from the University of California San Diego.

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