Fruit can decrease breast cancer risk, while alcohol can aggravate it

By Rebecca Burton • Published: August 11th, 2016
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Eat more fruit and drink less alcohol. It might sound like advice from your mother, but new research findings show that it’s also a good cancer prevention strategy.

Researchers at Harvard University’s School of Public Health wanted to know if eating more fruits and vegetables could lower the risk of breast cancer.

The study, published in the journal BMJ, used data from a survey that followed 90,000 nurses for 20 years. The nurses recorded their diets and eating habits in early adulthood, and half of them also reported fruit intake from their teenage years. The researchers wanted to determine if high fruit and vegetable consumption—2.9 servings a day — during teenage years led to lower breast cancer risk in middle age.

Indeed, those who ate more fruits and vegetables had a 25 percent lower risk of breast cancer in middle age. Oranges and kale proved to be extra beneficial, and the researchers suggest it’s because they are rich in beta-carotene. Processed fruit, such as fruit juice, didn’t seem to make a difference.

But breast cancer also has its allies. Researchers in Denmark followed 22,000 postmenopausal women to see how alcohol consumption might affect their risk of breast cancer.

Their study, also published in BMJ, found that women who increased their alcohol consumption by two additional drinks a day over five years faced a 30 percent higher risk of breast cancer than women who did not. The authors concluded that it’s always best to drink in moderation.

So ladies, be sure to get regular breast cancer check-ups, get your daily servings of fruits and vegetables, and drink moderately. It will help keep you healthy — and your mother would be proud.