Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables may lower women’s risk for a tough-to-treat form of breast cancer, but it does not reduce their odds of getting breast cancer overall, a new study finds.
Specifically, the new study found lower rates of what’s known as “estrogen receptor-negative breast cancer” among women who ate high amounts of fruits and vegetables.
These tumors — which do not respond to circulating estrogen — account for 15 percent to 20 percent of breast cancers, and have a lower survival rate than other types of breast cancer.
According to a team led by Seungyoun Jung, formerly at the department of nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health, previous research has suggested that consuming higher amounts of fruits and vegetables might lower breast cancer risk, but there haven’t been enough data to prove it.
In their new investigation, Jung’s team analyzed data from 20 prior studies of women who were followed for a maximum of 11 to 20 years.
They found a statistically significant link between higher fruit and vegetable consumption and a lower risk for estrogen receptor-negative breast cancer, but not with a lower risk of estrogen receptor-positive breast cancers (those that do respond to estrogen) or for breast cancer overall.
The lower risk for estrogen receptor-negative breast cancer was mostly associated with higher intake of vegetables, Jung’s team noted in a journal news release.