It is important to eat your fruits and vegetables. A new study of women’s risk of breast cancer shows that when you eat them may also matter.
Fruit During the Teen Years Lowers the Risk of Breast Cancer:
Investigators found that when young women ate about three servings of fruit daily in during their teen years, they reduced their risk of breast cancer in middle age by about 25 percent compared to those who only ate a serving of fruit every other day or so during adolescence.
The data come from the Nurses Health Study II, in which more than 90,000 women report their habits, including their eating habits, every few years. Approximately half of them answered retrospective questions about their diet during their teen years.
A Few Anomalies:
One might imagine that people who eat fruit as teenagers would continue to consume fruits and vegetables as adults. Since people who eat more vegetables and fruits are at lower risk for many different types of cancer, that could be part of the explanation.
Oddly, however, there was not an association between fruit and vegetable consumption in early adulthood and the likelihood of a breast cancer diagnosis. The strongest link was between adolescent fruit consumption and a lowered risk of estrogen and progesterone receptor negative cancers.
The researchers report that apples, bananas and grapes eaten during the teen years and oranges and kale eaten in adulthood were associated with a reduced risk of breast cancer. Although the study has the strength of 20 years of follow-up, it is not a randomized controlled trial.