Cancer recurrence not affected by fruits, vegetables

by Staff
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STANFORD, CALIF. — Increasing fruit and vegetable consumption does not reduce the likelihood of breast cancer recurrence among women whose cancers were treated at an early stage, according to a researcher at the Stanford University School of Medicine.

"For breast cancer survivors who are meeting the ‘5-a-day’ dietary goals set by the National Cancer Institute, there is no benefit to further increase their vegetable and fiber intake in terms of preventing breast cancer recurrence," said Dr. Marcia Stefanick, professor of medicine at the Stanford Prevention Research Center and a senior author of the study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The study documented the effect on diet on approximately 3,100 women previously treated for early-stage breast cancer. Half were randomly assigned to follow the dietary guidelines from the N.C.I. and the U.S. Department of Agriculture that promote eating 5 servings of fruit and vegetables daily. The other half were asked to eat almost double that amount while reducing their fat intake.

After following the women for an average of 7.3 years, the researchers found the breast cancer recurrence and mortality rates were nearly identical for both groups.

"I was really surprised and frankly, a little disappointed by the results," Ms. Stefanick said. "We expected a two-fold increase in vegetables and fruits, plus the increased fiber and reduced fat to make a difference in recurrence rates."

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