Extra fruit and vegetables do not lower risk of breast cancer recurrence

July 18, 2007 in Cancer Prevention, Nutrition Topics in the News, Women's Health

Extra fruit and vegetables do not lower risk of breast cancer recurrence

According to study findings published today in the Journal of the American Medial Association, more than doubling up on the recommended five daily servings of fruit and vegetables does not prevent additional breast cancers nor does it improve survival among women treated for early stage breast cancer.

Previous studies have found that five daily servings of fruits and vegetables, increased fibre and reduced fat improves survival among women diagnosed with early stage breast cancer.

Researchers from Stanford Prevention Research Center in California studied the effect of a high intake of fruit and vegetable intake on breast cancer recurrence risk of 3,088 women who were previously treated for early stage breast cancer. 

Half of the women were assigned to a "five-a-day" diet, meaning they consumed five servings of fruit and vegetables per day.  The remaining women consumed a low-fat diet with 12 servings of fruits and vegetables per day, which included five vegetable servings, three servings of fruit and 16 oz of vegetable juice (equivalent to 4 servings of vegetables).  Overall, the diet contained 30 grams of fibre with 15 to 20 percent of calories from fat.

After a follow-up period of over 7 years, the researchers found that breast cancer recurrence rates in the two groups were nearly identical. 

These latest findings suggest that while "five a day" is good, a major increase in fruit and vegetable to 12 servings per day does not offer extra protection against the recurrence of breast cancer.

That does not mean there's no reason to strive for more than five servings per day. High intakes of vegetables and fruit can lower elevated blood pressure, lower the risk of stroke and may ward off other types of cancer.   Based on the current scientific evidence, the 2007 Canada's Food Guide advises adults to consume 7 to 10 servings of fruits and vegetables per day.

According to Canada's Food Guide, one serving of vegetables is ½ cup cooked or raw vegetables, a cup of leafy greens or one-half cup of vegetable juice.  One serving of fruit is one medium sized piece of fruit (such as an apple, banana, orange or kiwi), or one-half cup pure fruit juice.

For more information on breast cancer, please visit the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation.

All research on this web site is the property of Leslie Beck Nutrition Consulting Inc. and is protected by copyright. Keep in mind that research on these matters continues daily and is subject to change. The information presented is not intended as a substitute for medical treatment. It is intended to provide ongoing support of your healthy lifestyle practices.