Women diagnosed with breast cancer are more likely to survive if they eat up their greens, research has suggested.
A large Chinese study found a link between higher consumption ofcruciferous vegetables such as greens, cabbage and broccoli, and reduced breast cancer death rates.
Researchers followed the progress of almost 5,000 women for around five years after they were diagnosed with breast cancer. They found that the more cruciferous vegetables women ate during the first three years after diagnosis, the less likely they were to die.
As consumption increased, the chances of dying from breast cancer fell by between 22% and 62% and from all causes by between 27% and 62%. Breast cancer recurrencerisk also decreased, by between 21% and 35%.
During the study period, a total of 587 women died, 496 from breast cancer. Researchers recorded 615 cases of recurrence.
The findings were presented at the annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research in Chicago, US. The researchers pointed out that cruciferous vegetable consumption habits differed between China and the West.
“Commonly consumed cruciferous vegetables in China include turnips, Chinese cabbage/bok choy and greens, while broccoli and Brussels sprouts are the more commonly consumed cruciferous vegetables in the US and other Western countries,” said study leader Dr Sara Nechuta from Vanderbilt University.
“Second, the amount of intake among Chinese women is much higher than that of US women. The level of bioactive compounds such as isothiocyanates and indoles, proposed to play a role in the anti-cancer effects of cruciferous vegetables, depend on both the amount and type of cruciferous vegetables consumed.”
Dr Nechuta said future studies of the effects of cruciferous vegetables on breast cancer should make direct measurements of levels of bioactive compounds.
The women were participants in the Shanghai Breast Cancer Survival Study, an investigation of Chinese breast cancer survivors diagnosed with different grades of tumour between 2002 and 2006.
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