Breast Cancer Survivors May Benefit from Higher Intakes of Fruits and Vegetables

By Reed Mangels, PhD, RD

A recently published study suggests that there is yet
another reason to eat more fruits and vegetables. This study of 8,927 women,
who had been diagnosed with breast cancer, asked the women about their diet
every 4 years after their diagnosis. Over the follow-up period, averaging 11.5
years, slightly more than a quarter of the women died; almost half of the
deaths were related to breast cancer. Women who ate more fruits and vegetables
and women who ate more vegetables after their diagnosis had a lower risk of
dying from any cause than did women with lower intakes of these foods. Women
with the highest intakes of vegetables and fruits averaged 7.4 servings per
day; those with the lowest intake averaged 2.2 servings per day. When the
investigators examined specific foods, they determined that women with a
greater intake of green leafy and cruciferous vegetables (vegetables in the
cabbage family) had a lower risk of death than did women with lower intakes of
these foods. Vegetables and fruits high in vitamin C and vegetables high in
beta-carotene (like carrots, winter squash, and sweet potatoes) were associated
with a lower risk of death. Blueberries appeared to be associated with a lower
risk of death. Each 2 servings/week of blueberries was associated with a 25%
lower risk of dying from breast cancer and a 17% lower risk of dying from any
cause. Higher fruit juice consumption., but not higher orange juice
consumption, was associated with a higher risk of death from breast cancer and
from any cause.

Farvid MS, Holmes MD, Chen WY, et al. Postdiagnostic fruit
and vegetable consumption and breast cancer survival: prospective analyses in
the Nurses’ Health Studies. Cancer Res. 2020;80(22):5134-5143.