There appears to be little truth in claims that eating fruit and vegetables can
protect against breast cancer, suggest findings from a European study.
Following contradictory findings on the influence of
fruit and vegetable intake on the likelihood of developing breast cancer, a team
of researchers examined data from 285,526 women from eight European countries.
The women were aged 25–70 years, and had completed a
questionnaire about their diet between 1992 and 1998. The rate of cancer was
then assessed until 2002 – an average period of 5.5 years. By this time, 3659
cases of invasive breast cancer had been reported.
However, analysis failed to show any significant
association between total fruit and vegetable intake and risk of breast cancer,
report Dr Petra Peeters from the University Medical Center in Utrecht, The
Netherlands, and colleagues.
There was also no significant correlation between intake
of six specific vegetables, including mushrooms, cabbage, or garlic and onion,
and risk of breast cancer, the investigators note in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
"The findings from this study confirm the data from the
largest pooled analysis to date, in that no large protective effects for
vegetable or fruit intake in relation to breast cancer can be observed," the
They caution, however: "This does not exclude the
possibility that protective effects may be observed for specific nutrients or in
specific subgroups of women, such as those with a family history of breast
cancer or oestrogen-receptor positive tumours."
In an accompanying editorial, Dr Walter Willett, from
Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, Massachusetts, USA, adds: "Although
recent findings on fruit and vegetable consumption may be disappointing,
reductions in blood pressure and epidemiological evidence for lower risks of
cardiovascular disease provide sufficient reason to consume these food in