Women who adhere to a low-fat diet with plenty of vegetables and
fruits may decrease their risk of developing breast cancer, according
to a new study published in the May 1998 issue of The Journal of
the American Dietetic Association. The study examined the
relationship between consumption of specific foods--namely meats,
vegetables, and fruits--and levels of oxidative DNA damage in women
following their own usual diet or a diet low in fat. The 21 women who
participated in the study were healthy but had an increased risk for
breast cancer because they had a close relative with breast cancer.
Healthy Diet Repairs Damaged DNA
"Everyone has damaged DNA from which cancer can potentially
develop," said Cyndi Thomson, RD, American Dietetic Association
spokesperson and researcher at the University of Arizonas
Cancer Center in Tucson. "The question is whether or not a
healthier diet can reduce or repair the damaged DNA levels," she
added. "This study shows that eating more vegetables and fruits
while eating meats in moderation has a positive effect."
The most significant reductions in DNA damage levels were associated
with increased consumption of vegetables. Specifically, women who ate
more vegetables, especially cooked vegetables, had lower DNA damage
levels, while those who ate more beef and pork had higher DNA damage levels.
Although these results are preliminary, they reinforce what nutrition
experts have been saying all along. Ms. Thomson notes the need for
more research and says, "Diet is not the be-all or end-all cure
for cancer, but it is one step Americans can take against cancer.
They can eat more vegetables to improve the repair of damaged DNA in