The People's Perspective on Medicine

Will Extra Vegetables Protect You Against Breast Cancer?

Women who eat extra vegetables on a regular basis lower their chance of developing breast cancer. Cruciferous veggies like bok choi, broccoli and cauliflower are especially helpful.

Your mother was right when she urged you to eat your vegetables. And if she took her own advice and consumed extra vegetables, she was lowering her own risk of breast cancer.

What Is the Value of Extra Vegetables?

More than 180,000 women participated in the Nurses’ Health Study and the Nurses’ Health Study II. They provided detailed dietary and health information every few years for more than two decades.

During that time, more than 10,000 of the volunteers developed invasive breast cancer. The epidemiologists running the study found that those who consumed at least five and a half servings of fruits and vegetables a day were 11 percent less likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer than those who ate fewer than two and a half servings (International Journal of Cancer, July 6, 2018). The effect was most noticeable with aggressive breast cancer.

Which Extra Vegetables Pack a Punch?

All vegetables are beneficial. Crucifers like Brussels sprouts, cauliflower and kale were especially helpful, along with sweet potatoes, winter squash and other orange veggies. Other cruciferous vegetables include bok choi, broccoli, cabbage, collards, kohlrabi, mustard greens and turnips.

This is not the first research to flag extra vegetables for their potential to reduce the risk of breast cancer. A few years ago, scientists identified vegetables rich in luteolin as beneficial against breast cancer.

Luteolin Lowers Risk of Breast Cancer:

Scientists have found that a natural compound found in many plants can help lower this likelihood (Springer Plus, Aug. 22, 2015). Luteolin is found in broccoli, celery, green peppers, parsley and thyme.

Other studies confirm the importance of luteolin in the development of breast cancer (Cell Physiology and Biochemistry, 2015). Test tube research on breast cancer cells found that exposing them to this natural compound reduces their tendency to behave like stem cells. Since stem-cell like behavior is a characteristic of cancer cells, this is promising. Recent research demonstrates that luteolin can suppress metastasis of breast cancer cells (Cook, Breast Cancer, June 12, 2018).

More Studies on Luteolin Are Needed:

Clinical trials to see whether administering luteolin orally or through injections are ahead. In the meantime, there’s certainly no harm in adding extra parsley or celery to the diet. Clearly, women who consume extra vegetables are doing themselves a favor.

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies. .
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I am another one who was eating a healthy diet with plenty of veggies when I got breast cancer. I attribute it to the highly chemicalized environment we live in, as well as the toxic chemicals in many cleaning products, self-care products, and non-organic food, especially GMO’s.

If you have gas with veggies, try probiotics.

I too would like to know what exactly a “serving” of various veggies looks like.

I developed breast cancer and I lived on vegetables at the time, in fact, the medical team could not find a single reason why I developed it. While I do believe eating veg is very important for the immune system which can help fight cancer I would hate for women to believe it stops you from getting breast cancer.

I believe we develop cancer for lots of reasons and sometimes for none at all, I often think of my own family none of whom had cancer of any type and wonder what happened to me, was it something I did or didn’t do? The only answer I came up with for the reason that I and many of my peers were developing cancer while our parents and Grandparents hadn’t was “Stress” we had a more stressful way of life from achievements we had to reach at school to gain entrance to college to stressful workplaces in competitive jobs something that none of our older female relatives had to face

I just had a ’bout’ with gout recently, and I wonder if these vegetables mentioned in this piece is good for people who suffer from gout?

Please share a few photos of what “five and a half servings of fruits and vegetables” looks like. Thank you!

The very vegetables that protect your health create terrible gas issues for me and the problem has gotten worse as I have gotten older. Is there any way to continue eating these helpful veggies without suffering the discomfort and embarrassment of their gas-producing effects?

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