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High Carotenoid Levels may Reduce Risk of Breast Cancer

A study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute gives women more reason to eat their carrots and other yellow fruits and vegetables. A team of researchers from Brigham & Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School conducted an analysis of eight studies which involved about 7,000 women tested for blood carotenoid levels and their risk for breast cancer.

Carotenoids are organic plant pigments that have been known to help fight against chronic diseases such as cancer. These micronutrients are found in many fruits and vegetables that are usually colored yellow to deep red. There are over 600 types of carotenoids but he most common of these include the vitamin A precursor β-carotene and lycopene.

Previous experiments have shown that carotenoids may prevent the progression of cancer growth, particularly breast cancer. These studies suggest that both estrogen receptor-positive (ER+) and estrogen receptor-negative (ER-) breast cancers may be inhibited by different types of carotenoids. The researchers found an inverse association between circulating total and individual carotenoid blood levels and risk for breast cancer. The link was found especially strong for ER- breast cancer, which has a poorer prognosis.

The authors note that while some evidence reveals that carotenoids inhibit the growth of ER+ breast cancers as well, its effect may be masked by hormone-linked associations which suppress other risk factors. The researchers therefore suggest that a diet high in carotenoid-rich fruits and vegetables may offer many health benefits, including the possibility of reducing one’s risk of breast cancer.


Journal of the National Cancer Institute. Women with higher carotenoid levels have reduced risk of breast cancer. ScienceDaily.

Posted in: Breast Cancer, Cancer, Cancer Prevention, Diet, Food, News Briefs, Vegetables

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