When it comes to breast cancer prevention, carrots and other brightly hued vegetables might be a new secret weapon in the hands of women at risk of the disease. According to a study of over 3,000 women, a compound in carrots could lower the chances of developing breast cancer by almost 60 percent.
The compound is beta carotene, and it helps protect against a specific form of breast cancer, according to the multicountry study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
The study found that women who had higher levels of beta carotene in their blood had a 59 percent lower risk of ER-negative breast cancer than women with lower levels. Another related compound, alpha carotene, reduced the risk by about 39 percent. ER-negative breast cancer is a type that is particularly hard to treat, according to the American Institute of Cancer Research, because the cancer does not respond well to hormone therapy.
Among common vegetables, carrots have the highest level of beta carotene. This powerful phytochemical is present in raw and cooked carrots as well as in carrot juice, so there are plenty of options when it comes to incorporating carrots into your diet. Pumpkins and sweet potatoes are also high in beta carotene, and spinach, collard greens and kale are other good sources as well.
Alpha carotene is found in many of the same foods, including pumpkins, carrots and collard greens, so eating these vegetables is a good way to get an extra dose of protection.
While the reduction in ER-negative breast cancer associated with these foods is impressive, the benefits only apply to that type of cancer. Only about a third of breast cancer cases involve ER-negative tumors.
Diet affects your health in many ways, including reducing your risk of some cancers. Eating a diet high in beta carotene can help keep ER-negative breast cancer at bay, and including a wide range of fruits and vegetables in your meal plan could offer even more anti-cancer benefits. Check out nine more cancer-fighting foods that can give your health a boost.