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Diet may reduce breast cancer risk

Eating carotenoid-rich food may protect women from developing breast cancer before menopause.

Diet may reduce breast cancer risk

Eating carotenoid-rich food may protect women from developing breast cancer before menopause.

Carotenoids are a class of natural fat-soluble pigments found mainly in plants, algae, and photosynthetic bacteria, where they play a critical role in photosynthesis. In human beings, carotenoids serve several important functions including meeting Vitamin A deficiencies, enhancing the functioning of immune system and protecting cells from the damaging effects of free radicals. Food rich in carotenoids include carrots, sweet potatoes, spinach, and tomatoes.

Most breast cancer risk factors are hormone dependent, for example, the age at which a woman begins menstruating or how old she was when she had her first child.

To examine whether eating a carotenoid-rich diet protects women from breast cancer, researchers from America studied 5,707 women who had been operated for breast cancer (2,363 premenopausal women and 3,516 postmenopausal women) and 6,389 healthy controls (2,594 premenopausal women and 3,516 postmenopausal women). The researches collected data regarding the intake of carotenoid rich fruits and vegetables for 5 previous years.

It was found that the more servings of carotenoid-rich vegetables premenopausal women ate every day; the lower was their risk of developing the disease. Higher levels of the carotenoids vitamin A, beta carotene, alpha carotene, and lutein/zeaxanthin reduced breast cancer risk among premenopausal women, but not postmenopausal women. Eating at least two servings of carotenoid-rich vegetables each day reduced the risk by 17 percent.

Carotenoids have been shown to interfere with oestrogen signalling, which might explain why their cancer-preventing effects would be limited to premenopausal women.

The researchers concluded that a high consumption of carotenoids might reduce the risk of premenopausal but not postmenopausal breast cancer.

      
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