More reason to eat those veggies! Women who follow a breast cancer diet and eat lots of cruciferous (broccoli, Brussels sprouts, bok choy) veggies have a greater chance of living longer and have less chance of their cancer recurring according to a large new study. It seems the more veggies the better.
Experts from the American Cancer Society estimate there will be almost 300,000 cases of cancer of the breast in the US this year. Nearly 40,000 patients will lose their lives to the disease.
The work included almost 5,000 Chinese survivors of breast cancer who were aged 20 to 75 years old who had been diagnosed in 2002 to 2006. They completed detailed questionnaires on dietary intake when the study started, and then again at the 18-month and 36 month point. The subjects were split into five groups based on their cruciferous veggie intake.
At about the five year point after diagnosis, those ladies in the top 20% (150 gms of cruciferous vegetables a day) had a 42% less chance of dying from the disease, and have a 58% lower chance of dying from any cause in comparison with those who had the lowest intake (under 54 grams per day).
Women in the top 20% were also nearly 20% less likely to experience a recurrence of their cancer.
The team of researchers also looked at other things that can impact breast cancer returning and survival rates - including how old you are, the stage of your cancer, your treatment, how active you are and other factors in your diet.
The good news is that it's very simple to add 150 grams of vegetables to your diet... and you might even like them. One cup of cooked cauliflower or broccoli or the more exotic mustard greens cabbage, kale and good old Brussels sprouts all have just about 150 grams per serving.
This research isn't the first time experts have suggested that eating these delicious veggies might help patients with breast cancer - it is one of the biggest however. Encouraging as the work is, it does not prove that cruciferous veggies made the difference. Those who eat this way might have other healthy habits (or advantages) that weren't measured by the study.
Also, Asian diets are quite different to the average western one we eat here in America. Some of the popular cruciferous veggies common in Chinese diets include turnips, bok choy and other greens. And Asians do eat more veggies overall than are in most Western diets.
So why are veggies so beneficial?
They contain large levels of compounds known as glucosinolates. These change into isothiocyanates and Indoles when ingested and have been found to have lots of anti-cancer properties - at least in the laboratory.