Carotenoid Foods May Protect Against Certain Breast Cancers

Looking for another reason to add carrots to your lunch or collard greens to dinner? Well, these are great sources of beta-carotene and alpha-carotene, types of carotenoids found in fruits and vegetables, And a new study suggests that women with higher blood concentrations of these carotenoids are at decreased risk of the type of breast cancer called estrogen receptor (ER) negative.

ER negative breast cancers do not have receptors for the hormone estrogen. These tumors are less common and often more difficult to treat than the more common ER-positive tumors that typically respond to estrogen.

Carotenoids in foodRecent studies, like this one, have linked carotenoids to decreased breast cancer risk.

The new study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition included 1,502 women with breast cancer and 1,502 healthy controls from the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) group.

Researchers chose to focus primarily on pre-menopausal and ER negative cancers because their review of the literature suggested that dietary carotenoids and fruit/ vegetable intake are more strongly related to these types of tumors.

Researchers compared prediagnostic blood levels of 6 carotenoids, including β-carotene and α-carotene as well as retinol, α-tocopherol, ϒ-tocopherol, and vitamin C for both groups. They took into account weight as well as other known risk factors for breast cancer.

Risk of ER negative breast cancer was 59 percent and 39 percent lower in women who had the highest blood concentrations of β-carotene and α-carotene respectively, compared to those who had the lowest levels. ER positive breast cancer risk was not associated with carotenoids or other nutrients.

Carotenoids are a large group of phytochemicals found in fruits and vegetables. You can usually recognize them by the orange, red, and yellow colors they give to foods. Many green leafy vegetables are also great sources.

These results may be another reason to consume more foods with beta carotene and alpha carotene. Supplements are not associated with the same decreased risk. And β-carotene in high-dose supplements, especially in smokers, seems to increase lung cancer risk and mortality.

The authors note that other factors including genetics and lifestyle can affect plasma carotenoid levels and may have affected the study results.

This study, and others, will be included in AICR/WCRF’s upcoming continuous update project report on breast cancer prevention. AICR’s previous review of the literature did not find a convincing link between foods containing carotenoids and breast cancer risk. Fruits and vegetables containing carotenoids are part of a cancer-preventive diet. AICR estimates that one-third of US breast cancers can could be prevented by maintaining a healthy weight, being physically active, and avoiding alcohol.

This study was supported by: Wereld Kanker Onderzoek Fond; Europe Against Cancer Program of the European Commission; Deutsche Krebshilfe, Deutsches Krebsforschungszentrum; German Federal Ministry of Education and Research; Danish Cancer Society; Health Research Fund of the Spanish Ministry of Health, Spanish Regional Governments of Andalucia, Asturia, Basque Country, Murcia (No. 6236), and Navarra; Catalan Institute of Oncology, Red de Centros RCESP, C03/09, Spain; Cancer Research UK; Medical Research Council, United Kingdom; Stroke Association, United Kingdom; British Heart Foundation; Department of Health, United Kingdom; Food Standards Agency, United Kingdom; Wellcome Trust, United Kingdom; Helenic Health Foundation; Italian Association for Research on Cancer; Italian National Research Council, Fondazione-Istituto Banco, Napoli, Italy; Dutch Ministry of Public Health, Welfare and Sports; Dutch Prev ention Funds; LK Research Funds; Dutch ZON (Zorg Onderzoek Nederland); World Cancer Research Fund; Swedish Cancer Society; Swedish Scientific Council; Regional Government of Skane, Sweden; European Research Council; French League against Cancer; National Institute for Health and Medical Research, France; Mutuelle Généralede; Education Nationale, France; 3M Co, France; Gustave Roussy Institute, France; and General Councils of France.

Study, Flavonoid-filled Fruits and Veggies May Help You Avoid Weight Gain

You probably know fruits and vegetables are packed with all kinds of nutrients, and compounds linked to good health. One of the biggest groups of these compounds or phytochemicals are the flavonoids, and we talk about them a lot here because they’re studied for their role in lowering cancer risk.

Now comes a large and long-term study that suggests eating plenty of berries, pears, peppers and other fruits and vegetables high in flavonoids may help you avoid weight gain as you age. That can help prevent overweight or obesity, and that’s a big deal for cancer prevention.

FlavonoidsThe study, published in BMJ, included almost 124,000 people who were part of three population studies that were looking at habits and health. Back in 1986, participants had reported what they were eating, along with other lifestyle habits, such as smoking and activity. They also reported how much they weighed. Every couple years every again filled out questionnaire about their eating habits, using a detailed list of foods, along with weight and illness. Continue reading

Warning labels may keep parents from buying sugary drinks

Say you’re a parent of a young child and you’re picking out a beverage for your kid. You’re scanning the options and see this label – would it make you pick another drink?

F1.large, preventablesodastudy (1)

What about this one?

F1.large, preventablesodastudy (2)A new study finds that for many parents of 6 to 11 year olds, these or other similar warning labels are enough to avoid buying that sugary beverage for their child. At least that’s what parents said in an online survey. The study was published yesterday in the journal Pediatrics. (It coincidentally was released the same day that a ruling to require warning labels on sugary beverages failed to go forward in California.)

Avoiding sugary beverages is one of AICR’s recommendations for cancer prevention as it can lead to weight gain, for kids and adults. And excess body fat is a cause of many common adult cancers, including colorectal and post-menopausal breast.

AICR Sugary Drinks RecThe study in Pediatrics included almost 2,400 parents who took an online survey about Continue reading