Certain vegetables could help improve survival rates for breast cancer patients.
Green vegetables like broccoli, kale, cabbage and brussels sprouts have been shown to reduce the risk of breast cancer related death.
The American Association for Cancer Research released the data earlier this week.
More than 48-hundred women in China were studied.
They had been diagnosed with breast cancer between 2002 and 2006.
Researchers also say the women who increased their vegetable consumption had a reduced risk of their cancer coming back.
However, they haven’t been able to determine how much has to be eaten to be beneficial.
The American Cancer Society recommends we eat at least two and a half cups of fruits and vegetables a day to reduce our overall cancer risk.
The study of veggie consumption and breast cancer survival rates encompassed nearly 5,000 breast cancer survivors in China who had been diagnosed between 2002 and 2006. The women in the study ranged in diagnosis from Stage 1 to Stage 4, and higher amounts of cruciferous vegetables in the diets of the women studied was ultimately tied to better outcomes overall.
Sarah Nechuta was a researcher on the new study (cruciferous vegetables have been linked to better breast cancer outcomes in the past) and she explains that while researchers controlled for lifestyle and demographic factors, the impact of cruciferous vegetables in the diet seemed to track:
“Cruciferous vegetables, such as cauliflower, cabbage, bok choy, turnips and broccoli, contain high amounts of glucosinolates, which are hydrolyzed to bioactive compounds including isothiocyanates (ITCs) and indoles… These bioactive compounds have many anti-cancer properties that may influence cancer development, progression and survival.”
Oregon State University nutrition professor Emily Ho explains:
“An association has also been established with [cruciferous vegetables and] colon cancer and prostate cancer… There is pretty strong evidence from studies that compounds found in cruciferous vegetables may have cancer-fighting properties.”
In the study, women in the group who consumed the most cruciferous vegetables reduced overall as well as breast cancer-specific mortality by 62%, and slashed risk of recurrence by 35%.
When the investigators looked at the women’s dietary habits and lifestyle factors, they discovered that those who ate cruciferous vegetables during the first three years after their breast cancer diagnosis experienced the following benefits based on the amount of vegetables they ate:
Their risk for death from any cause decreased by 27% to 62%
Their risk for death from breast cancer decreased by 22% to 62%
Their risk for recurrence of breast cancer decreased by 21% to 35%
The more cruciferous vegetables the women ate, the better the benefit.
Other research on cruciferous vegetables
Previous research has highlighted the cancer benefits of eating cruciferous vegetables. For example, a 2011 study from researchers at the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University showed for the first time that sulforaphane, a type of isothiocyanate in broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables, can target and kill cancer cells without damaging healthy cells.
In a new study published in the Annals of Oncology, researchers evaluated more than 12,000 individuals with different types of cancer and compared them with more than 11,000 healthy controls. Consumption of cruciferous vegetables at least once a week compared with occasional or no intake was associated with a significantly reduced risk of cancer of the pharynx, esophagus, colorectum, breast, and kidney.