Breast cancer

04 April 2012

Cruciferous vegetable boost breast cancer survival

Eating cruciferous vegetables after breast cancer diagnosis was associated with improved survival among Chinese women.


Eating cruciferous vegetables after breast cancer diagnosis was associated with improved survival among Chinese women, according to results presented at the AACR Annual Meeting 2012.

"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, M.P.H., Ph.D., 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 one to stage four 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.

Vegetable consumption habits

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 noted that cruciferous vegetable consumption habits differ between China and the United States and suggested this fact be considered when generalising these results to US 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," she said. "Second, the amount of intake among Chinese women is much higher than that of US 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.

(EurekAlert, April 2012) 

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Dr Gudgeon qualified in Birmingham, England, in 1968. She has more than 40 years experience in oncology, and in 1994 she founded her practice, Cape Breast Care, where she treats benign and malignant breast cancers. Dr Boeddinghaus obtained her qualification at UCT Medical School in 1994 and her MRCP in London in 1998. She has worked extensively in the field of oncology and has a special interest in the hormonal management of breast cancer. She now works with Dr Gudgeon at Cape Breast Care. Read more.

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