A study presented at the American Association for Cancer Research’s Annual Meeting shows that eating cruciferous vegetables after breast cancer diagnosis may improve survival among Chinese women.
“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,” said Sarah J. Nechuta, a postdoctoral research fellow at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn.
She and her colleagues investigated the role of cruciferous vegetables in breast cancer survival in the Shanghai Breast Cancer Survival Study, a prospective study of 4,886 Chinese breast cancer survivors diagnosed with stage 1 to stage 4 breast cancer from 2002 to 2006.
After adjusting for demographics, clinical characteristics, and lifestyle factors, the researchers found cruciferous vegetable intake during the first 36 months after breast cancer diagnosis was associated with a reduced risk for total mortality, breast cancer-specific mortality, and recurrence in a dose-response pattern. Across increasing quartiles of cruciferous vegetable consumption, risk for total mortality decreased by 27–62%, risk for breast cancer-specific mortality decreased by 22–62%, and risk for recurrence decreased by 21–35%.
Nechuta noted that cruciferous vegetable consumption habits differ between China and the United States and suggested this fact be considered when generalizing these results to U.S. breast cancer survivors.
“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,” said Nechuta. “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.”
She suggested that future studies with direct measurements of bioactive compounds such as isothiocyanates and host factors that influence the effects of these biological compounds be conducted to better understand the association of cruciferous vegetable intake with breast cancer outcomes.