Chinese women who ate plenty of cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower - cruciferous vegetables - were found to have better breast cancer survival rates compared to other breast cancer patients, researchers explained at the AACR (American Association for Cancer Research) Annual Meeting 2012, Chicago, USA.
Sarah J. Nechuta, M.P.H., Ph.D., a postdoctoral research fellow at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn., said:
"Breast cancer survivors can follow the general nutritional guidelines of eating vegetables daily and may consider increasing intake of cruciferous vegetables, such as greens, cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli, as part of a healthy diet."
Nechuta and team set out to determine what impact cruciferous vegetables might have on breast cancer survival. They gathered data on the Shanghai Breast Cancer Survival Study, involving 4,886 patients who had survived breast cancer from stages 1 to 4, during 2002-2006.
They made adjustments for lifestyle factors, clinical features and demographics, and found that the consumption of cruciferous vegetables during the first three years after a diagnosis of breast cancer was linked to a lower risk of dying from cancer, a lower total mortality risk (dying from anything), as well as a recurrence in a dose-response pattern.
The researchers explained:
"Across increasing quartiles of cruciferous vegetable consumption, risk for total mortality decreased by 27% to 62%, risk for breast cancer-specific mortality decreased by 22% to 62%, and risk for recurrence decreased by 21% to 35%."
Nechuta explained that as vegetable consumption patterns in China are different from those in the USA and other western countries, adjustments will need to be made when considering these findings and applying them to breast cancer survivors in America or Europe.
"Commonly consumed cruciferous vegetables in China include turnips, Chinese cabbage/bok choy and greens, while broccoli and brussels sprouts are the more commonly consumed cruciferous vegetables in the United States and other Western countries. Second, the amount of intake among Chinese women is much higher than that of U.S. women.
The level of bioactive compounds such as isothiocyanates and indoles, proposed to play a role in the anticancer effects of cruciferous vegetables, depend on both the amount and type of cruciferous vegetables consumed."
In order to have a better understanding of the link between cruciferous vegetable consumption and breast cancer outcomes, Nechuta says future studies should focus on bioactive compounds, including isothiocyanates and other host factors that impact on the effects of these biological compounds.
Written by Christian Nordqvist