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 their bodies."