March 22, 2007 / 12:53 PM / 12 years ago

Plant foods may cut breast cancer risk

The sun peeks through grain on a field before harvest in the eastern German village of Kuestrin-Kietz, 120 km (75 miles) north east of Berlin July 24, 2006. Postmenopausal women who eat healthy amounts of plant foods rich in estrogen-like compounds called lignans may reduce their risk of developing breast cancer, according to a new study. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Postmenopausal women who eat healthy amounts of plant foods rich in estrogen-like compounds called lignans may reduce their risk of developing breast cancer, according to a new study.

“Following the general dietary guidelines for a healthy and prudent diet, that is, consuming large amounts and varieties of fruits, vegetables and whole-grain cereal products daily (all foods rich in lignans) may also help prevent breast cancer in postmenopausal women,” Dr. Francoise Clavel-Chapelon told Reuters Health.

Clavel-Chapelon, from the National Institute of Health and Medical Research, Villejuif, France, and associates evaluated the relationship between the amount of four types of plant ligands in the diet and breast cancer risk in 58,049 postmenopausal French women.

Over an average follow-up period of 7.7 years, 1469 women were diagnosed with breast cancer, according to the study, published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

Analysis of the data showed that women with the highest total amount of lignans in the diet had a 17-percent lower risk of developing breast cancer compared with women having the lowest dietary lignan levels.

“The reduction in risk was confined to breast cancers positive for hormone receptors, the major type, of which incidence is increasing,” Clavel-Chapelon noted.

A diet containing lots of plant foods is hypothesized to offer a breast cancer prevention strategy, the researcher added. This hypothesis was recently confirmed by a study that found a reduced risk of invasive breast cancer among postmenopausal women with high lignan levels in their diet, Clavel-Chapelon said.

SOURCE: Journal of the National Cancer Institute, March 21, 2007.

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