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Eat Your Vegetables to Better Fight Breast Cancer

The importance of eating vegetables cannot be overstated. In 2010 the USDA released new dietary guidelines recommending that most Americans more than double their daily serving of vegetables. Now researchers at Vanderbilt University in Nashville have found that people fighting breast cancer may benefit from an increased intake of cruciferous vegetables.

Cruciferous vegetables include greens, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, broccoli, turnips and bok choy.

The researchers presented their findings at the 2012 AACR Annual Meeting held the week of March 31 in Chicago, Illinois.

They used data from the Shanghai Breast Cancer Survival Study, which included 4.886 women diagnosed with stage 1 to stage 4 breast cancer from 2002 to 2006. After adjusting for demographics, clinical characteristics and lifestyle factors, they found some impressive results related to cruciferous vegetables.

In the first 36 months after breast cancer diagnosis, participants in the highest quartile of cruciferous vegetable consumption saw a decrease of 27% in total mortality, 22% in breast cancer-specific mortality risk and 21% in recurrence risk compared to those in the lowest quartile.

The researchers believe these effects are due to the bioactive compounds known as isothiocyanates and indoles rhat are found in cruciferous vegetables. They noted that Chinese vegetable consumption tends to be heavy on bok choy and greens, whereas Americans tend to eat more broccoli and Brussels sprouts. They recommend more research be undertaken in order to determine the exact effects of specific vegetables.

Even if you don't have breast cancer, vegetables are an essential part of a healthy lifestyle. Vegetable consumption has been linked in previous studies to everything from lower blood pressure to better vision to lower cholesterol.

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