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More Fruits and Veggies; Lower Breast Cancer Risk

Red & Yellow apples on opposite sides of an old scaleEating just a couple servings of fruits and vegetables every day may reduce women’s risk of breast cancer a small but significant amount, with higher amounts decreasing risk even more, suggests a major new review of the research. The analysis was published last week in the journal Breast Cancer Research and Treatment.

The research was funded by the World Cancer Research Fund as part of AICR/WCRF's Continuous Update Project (CUP), an ongoing review of cancer prevention research. It builds on a 2007 and 2009 AICR/WCRF review of the literature. The most recent CUP conclusions found the research was too limited to draw a conclusion.

Researchers analyzed the 15 relevant population studies on the topic. All the studies were prospective, meaning they followed a group of people over time.

The study found that for every 200 grams of fruits and vegetables consumed daily – roughly one and a half cups – the risk of breast cancer was four percent lower. Consuming 400 grams daily would mean an eight percent lower risk, and so on. For fruits alone, consuming 200 grams daily lowered risk by six percent.

Higher intake of fruits and vegetables is linked to lower prevalence of obesity, note the authors. It’s possible that this may have influenced the findings because obesity increases the risk of postmenopausal breast cancer. Yet most but not all of the studies adjusted for this.

Government recommendations say women should eat between 3.5 to 5 cups of fruits and vegetables daily, depending upon age and activity level. The amount of grams in each cup depends upon the fruit or vegetable. One cup of blueberries (one serving), for example, is 140 grams, a cup of cooked tomatoes is 240 grams, and a cup of bananas is 150 grams.

Source: Aune D, Chan DS, Vieira AR, Rosenblatt DA, Vieira R, Greenwood DC, Norat T. Breast Cancer Res Treat. 2012 Jun 16.

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