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Apr 25, 2012

Cruciferous Vegetables Improve Breast Cancer Survival


Cruciferous vegetables have become recognized for some of their protective effects against many types of cancers.  These include foods like broccoli, broccoli sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, turnips, Chinese cabbage/bok choy, and other greens. 

The results of a new study presented at the American Association for Cancer Research 103rd Annual Meeting indicate that Chinese breast cancer patients experienced improved survival when consuming cruciferous vegetables.  Researchers found that as more cruciferous vegetables were consumed, total mortality risk lowered by 27%.  Mortality risk specific to breast cancer decreased by 22%, while the risk for recurrence went down by 21%. 

The study population was a large group, including 4886 Chinese women with stage I to IV breast cancer.  All were between the ages of 20 and 75, and recruited within 6 months of diagnosis.  Researchers collected data on clinical, sociodemographic, and lifestyle factors, as well as consumption of cruciferous vegetables.  

Sarah J. Nechuta, PhD, and the other researchers involved in the study observed that cruciferous vegetable consumption during the first 36 months after initial diagnosis was linked to lowered total mortality, mortality specific to breast cancer, and recurrence.  This proved to be the case after adjustments were made to account for variables such as demographics, lifestyle factors, and clinical characteristics.  

As with any study, it is important to take note of the type of population studied and realize that the results and conclusions may not be applicable to all population groups.  More research is certainly needed to more fully understand the effects of cruciferous vegetables on breast cancer survival.  Still, a reasonable take home message from this particular study and others like it is to “Eat your veggies and include plenty of cruciferous ones!”

Dr. Shana McQueen