Breast cancer is the leading cause of death for black women. Not only do black women get breast cancer at younger ages, they are also more likely to die from breast cancer. A study, part of the Black Women’s Health Study, an ongoing study of black women across the United States since 1995, looked at the diets of nearly 52,000 black women, 21 to 69 years old. In good news the study suggests eating vegetables may help prevent the development of breast cancer. Plus, black women who ate more than six servings per week of cruciferous vegetables had a 20 percent reduced risk of developing breast cancer compared to those who ate less than one serving per week. Cruciferous vegetables are a type of vegetable from the cabbage family. These veggies include broccoli, collard greens and cabbage.
This particular research followed the women for 12 years, during which 1,268 women were diagnosed with breast cancer for the first time. It turns out that close to half the women in the study had a lower chance of certain types of breast cancer when eating daily servings of vegetables. Total vegetable intake was associated with a marked reduction in risk of a certain type of breast cancer that is less influenced by hormonal factors, called estrogen and progesterone-negative breast cancer. This is especially important for African-American women, because they are more likely than white women to be diagnosed with this type of breast cancer, and its prognosis can be more serious. Black women who ate at least two vegetable servings per day (more than 14 servings per week) were 43 percent less likely to have this type of breast cancer than black women who had less than four vegetable serving per week.
Cruciferous vegetables topped the charts on the strength of their associations with reduced breast cancer risk. Eating more then six servings per week of cruciferous vegetables was associated with a significant reduction in breast cancer risk. (A serving size is 1/2 cup of cooked vegetables.) The protective effect increased to 61 percent among pre-menopausal women and 26 percent in post-menopausal women who had not taken hormone therapy.
Want to add more cruciferous vegetables to your diet? Here are a few suggestions:
- Lightly steam broccoli, collards or cabbage plain or with olive oil and lemon juice. Sprinkle with sesame or flax seeds for a possible additional breast cancer prevention effect.
- Dip raw or lightly steamed broccoli and cauliflower florets in hummus or black bean dip.
- Add chopped collards or cabbage to any soup
- Serve collards with black-eyed peas, brown rice, and crushed red pepper (minus the ham hock to reduce calories and fat) for a healthy, Southern-style side dish
- Try braised Ccbbage with seasonings like onion and vinegar
- Make a cream of broccoli soup without the cream…cook with potatoes and then blend/puree half the soup after it’s done cooking to thicken it.