Phytochemicals, which are plant-derived chemicals, found in vegetables, fruits, grains and legumes, provide protection from chronic diseases including cancer (Boggs, Palmer, Wise, Spiegelman, Stampfer, Adams-Campbell & Rosenberg, 2010). Flavonoids, one type of phytochemical, have been given much consideration in the scholarly literature; with a particular focus on their anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties (Boggs, Palmer, Wise, Spiegelman, Stampfer, Adams-Campbell & Rosenberg, 2010).
A recent report from the Black Women's Health Study evaluated fruit and vegetable intake and breast cancer incidence in 51,928 women aged 21 to 69 years. Women were followed for 12 years, during which they found 1268 cases of breast cancer. Although previous research (Agurs-Collins, Rosenberg, Makambi, Palmer & Adams-Campbell, 2009) has indicated that a diet high in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and fish provide protection against breast cancer, this study addressed whether fruits and vegetables had a greater role in the prevention of breast cancer than did grains and fish (Boggs, Palmer, Wise, Spiegelman, Stampfer, Adams-Campbell & Rosenberg, 2010). The results of this study found that a high vegetable consumption was associated with a 42 percent reduction in the risk of oestrogen-receptor-negative breast cancer, considered the most aggressive and difficult cancer to treat. Moreover, cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cabbage, kale, collards) and carrots were shown to lower the risk of total breast cancer.
Agurs-Collins, T., Rosenberg, L., Makambi, K., Palmer, J.R & Adams-Campbell, L. 2009. Dietary patterns and breast cancer risk in women participating in the Black Women's Health Study. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 90, 621-628.
Boggs, D.A., Palmer, J.R., Wise, L.A., Spiegelman, D., Stampfer, M.J., Adams-Campbell, L.L & Rosenberg L. 2010. Fruit and vegetable intake in relation to risk of breast cancer in the Black Women's Health Study. American Journal of Epidemiology, 172, 1268-1279.