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Breast Cancer


Eating fruit and veg fails to stave off breast cancer
14 Jan 2005

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 2570 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 researchers conclude.

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 abundance."