Carotenoids cut cancer risk

Researchers from Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital recently analyzed eight different studies examining the link between carotenoid levels and breast cancer risk.

Carotenoids are antioxidant compounds that give fruits and veggies their bright pigment. And this new analysis included nearly 80 percent of the available published data on the connection between this class of nutrients and breast cancer.

Results showed that women with higher circulating levels of these key nutrients–including alpha carotene, beta carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin, lycopene, and total carotenoids–have a significantly lower risk of developing breast cancer.

And the association was particularly strong in the case of estrogen-receptor negative cancer. (That is, cancer that doesn’t need estrogen to grow.)

This study appeared in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. And it offers yet another reason to pack your meals with a colorful variety of fruits and veggies.

That’s what I call smart prevention.

“The benefits and harms of breast cancer screening: an independent review.” The Lancet 2012; 380(9,855): 1,778-1,786
“Circulating carotenoids and risk of breast cancer: Pooled analysis of eight prospective studies.” J Natl Cancer Inst 2012; Dec. 6 (epub ahead of print)