The nutrient that could help cut your risk of a deadly breast cancer
Certain foods may help cut your risk of a deadly form of breast cancer by as much as 50%.
A diet rich in carotenoids—nutrients found in red-orange fruits and vegetables such as carrots, cantaloupe, and tomatoes—is associated with a lower risk of breast cancer, especially an aggressive form affecting about 58,000 women every year, says a new study from Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School. (Work more red veggies into your diet with these 6 Tasty Tomato Recipes.)
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“Women with the highest blood levels of carotenoids had a 15 to 20% lower risk of developing all types of breast cancer and a 40 to 50% lower risk of developing estrogen-receptor negative [ER-] breast cancer,” says Heather Eliassen, ScD, lead study author. [ER-] breast cancer tumors are fast growing and don’t respond to the hormone therapy that is so successful in estrogen-receptor positive tumors.
“Some carotenoids are precursors to vitamin A, which helps regulate cell growth and death,” says Dr. Eliassen. “They’re also antioxidants, which help eliminate cancer-promoting free radicals.” Because blood levels of carotenoids are very responsive to diet changes, a good tip is to fill up half your plate with colorful fruits and vegetables at each meal.
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