Do you remember how your Mom used to say how important it is to eat those vegetables, and how difficult it was to consume something like broccoli? My Mom used to go on by saying how millions of people were starving in China and that if I didn't eat that plate of vegetables, it would be an "insult to God."
While I think that Mom may have gone a bit overboard by trying to make me feel guilty, she was sure correct about the health value of eating those veggies. Especially for my two sisters. That's because researchers with Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center and the Shanghai Cancer Institute in China have recently discovered a possible link between a diet rich in certain vegetables and a decreased risk for breast cancer. The study appears in the March issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
Jay Fowke, Ph.D., assistant professor of Medicine at Vanderbilt-Ingram, said that 3,035 women diagnosed with breast cancer were identified through the Shanghai Cancer Registry. These women were closely matched with 3,037 randomly chosen patients from the general population there. Questionnaires about their diet, including consumption of cruciferous vegetables like Chinese cabbage, bok choi and turnips then took place.
Other cruciferous veggies more commonly eaten in the USA include broccoli, kale and cauliflower.
“Cruciferous vegetables contain some compounds that may have a cancer-inhibitory effect,” explained Fowke. “Here we were able to identify a group of women who seem to particularly benefit from a high intake of these vegetables.”
While there was only a small positive relationship between a diet high in these vegetables and a reduction in breast cancer risk for the overall study population, there was a striking risk reduction – 50 percent – among a certain sub-group of women. These women had a phenomenal response to eating cruciferous vegetables.
Cruciferous vegetables contain two chemicals called isothiocyanates and indole-3-carbinol which may affect the onset of cancer by triggering cell death or by changing the metabolism of estrogen. Studies by other researchers have suggested cruciferous vegetables may reduce the risk of lung, stomach, colorectal and bladder cancers as well.