Carrots can help reduce breast cancer risk

carrots and breast

A diet high in carrots can help reduce the risk of breast cancer, according to a Dutch study. 

The orange pigment in carrots – carotene – can help cut breast cancer risk by up to 60%, the University Medical Centre, Utrecht found. 

Carotene is also found in a number of other vegetables including red peppers and spinach. 

There are two types of pigment - beta carotene and alpha carotene. While both have positive effects, alpha carotene was found to have the greater preventative impact on breast cancer, the research team found.

Types of breast cancer

The research team compared the diets of 3,000 women. 

It found those who ate the highest levels of carotene were between 40% and 60% less likely to develop non-hormone sensitive breast cancers. 

These ‘oestrogen-receptor negative’ breast cancers, which account for nearly a third of all cases, are harder to treat than common forms stimulated by oestrogen. 

Vitamin C also appears to protect women against oestrogen and progesterone-sensitive breast cancers. 

While the findings show high concentrations of carotene and vitamin C could protect against types of breast cancer, it doesn’t mean taking dietary supplements helps, says lead researcher Dr Marije Bakker.

‘Super’ carotenes

Carrots and other vegetables high in carotenes have long been associated with good health. 

Carotenes are powerful antioxidants and, once consumed, are converted to vitamin A, which can help improve our vision in dim light and boost our immune system. 

But too much vitamin A can lead to brittle bones and even harm unborn babies, some research claims. 

While a high-vegetable diet can help lower the risk of cancer by keeping people at a healthy weight, there’s no such thing as a ‘superfood’ that will prevent it, says Dr Richard Berks, from the charity Breast Cancer Now.

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