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Carrots can lower the risk of Breast Cancer

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Eat Your Carrots and Lower Your Risk of Breast Cancer

There is mounting scientific evidence that women who eat a diet rich in carotenoids have substantially lower risk of breast cancer. The most recent studies show that the nutrients that give fruits and vegetables their yellow, orange and red colours can offer breast cancer protection to women at any stage of life, even those who have already survived breast cancer.

In separate studies, scientists from Harvard and New York's Albert Einstein College of Medicine have confirmed the value of carotenoid-rich diets even for women with deadly invasive breast cancer.

Among the 5,450 postmenopausal women Albert Einstein researchers studied over an 8-year period, those who consumed the most carotenoid-laden vegetables cut their risk of invasive breast cancer nearly in half.

The Harvard study went a step further by concluding that carotenoid consumption might even protect premenopausal women who had been smokers.

A study published earlier this year concludes that a carotenoid-rich diet can prevent breast cancer from returning.

Carotenoids are brightly colored fat-soluble pigments in fruits and vegetables that are part of the Vitamin A molecule. As strong antioxidants, carotenoids protect cells and tissues from disease-causing oxygen free radicals. They are also known to strengthen immune function and cell-to-cell communication.

Beta-carotene, perhaps the best known in this family of more than 600 carotenoids, has been credited with life-extending provitamin A activity that helps boost the immune system, among other functions.

Get your carotenoids from any bright red, yellow or orange fruits or vegetable, including carrots, red peppers, tomatoes squash, pumpkin, peaches, apricots and sweet potatoes. They are also found in spinach, kale and other dark green vegetables.

Cooking the foods can, in some cases, actually increase the bioavailability of carotenoids. Lycopene, a carotenoid that has been shown to be protective in a number of hormonally related cancers, actually becomes more usable to the human body after it is cooked. You`ll find lots of lycopene in tomatoes, watermelon and papayas.

Researchers have not yet identified the specific cancer-protective property in carotenoid-rich foods, but their role in improving cell-to-cell communication is likely to have a role in the equation. Carotenoids are believed to have a role in female reproduction, possibility-providing researchers with a clue to their breast cancer protective nature.

Eating foods containing animal-based vitamin A molecules called retinols have also been shown to protect against breast cancer. Retinols are found in abundance in liver, butter and eggs.

Retinoic acid

A nutrient in carrots and sweet potatoes may prove to be a vital weapon against breast cancer in the early stages of the disease, research suggests. Retinoic acid, a vitamin A derivative, also rejuvenates the skin and a weak version of it is used in anti-wrinkle face creams.

The chemical affects cell growth, proliferation and survival. So far, studies of its potential as a cancer therapy have proved inconclusive. Now a new laboratory study has shown that retinoic acid reverses early changes in cells that lead to breast cancer. However, it is ineffective once a certain stage of cancer development has been passed. The research points the way to developing promising cancer treatments based on retinoic acid or other chemicals with a similar biological effect. Scientists in the US homed in on the key role played by a gene that activates retinoic acid's anti-cancer properties.

The gene codes for a "receptor" molecule called RAR-beta that unleashes a cascade of biological effects when it comes into contact with retinoic acid. "We found that the RAR-beta gene was active in the two earliest stages of cancer, but silenced in the final two stages," said study leader Dr Sandra Fernandez, from Fox Chase Cancer Centre in Philadelphia. "These changes in gene activation were caused by a type of chemical modification called methylation, which involves the addition of a methyl group to DNA."

Retinoic acid is the oxidized form of Vitamin A, with only partial vitamin A function. It functions in determining position along embryonic anterior/posterior axis in chordates. It acts through Hox genes, which ultimately control anterior/posterior patterning in early developmental stages. Retinoic acid acts by binding to heterodimers of the retinoic acid receptor (RAR) and the retinoid X receptor (RXR), which then bind to retinoic acid response elements (RAREs) in the regulatory regions of direct targets (including Hox genes), thereby activating gene transcription. Retinoic acid receptors mediate transcription of different sets of genes of cell differentiation, thus it also depends on the target cells. One of the target genes is the gene of the retinoic acid receptor itself, which occurs during positive regulation. Control of retinoic acid levels is maintained by a suite of proteins.

Read more here:


Mignone, LI, Giovannucci E, Dietary carotenoids and the risk of invasive breast cancer. (International Journal of Cancer, 2009 Jun 15; 124(12):2929-37.

Rock CL, Natarajan L, Longitudinal biological exposure to carotenoids is associated with breast cancer-free free survival in the Women's Healthy Eating and Living Study. Cancer Epidemiology , Biomarkers and Prevention. 2009 Feb; 18(2):486-94.

Bonanni B, Lazzeroni M, Retinoids and breast cancer prevention. Recent results in Cancer Research 2009;181:77-82.

Formelli F, Meneghini E, Plasma retinol and prognosis of postmenopausal breast cancer patients. Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers and Prevention. 2009 Jan;18(1): 42-8

NOTE:The information on this website is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a replacement for medical advice from your personal physician.

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