Vegetables and Breast Cancer Prevention

Cancer is the abnormal growth of cell; medically it is defined as neoplasm or tumors that are malignant. One of the common types of cancer in women is breast cancer. About 12% of women all around the world will develop breast cancer in their lifetime. Breast cancer is rare in men but small percentage of men may develop breast cancer. It is the development of life threatening malignancies in one or both the breasts. Generally there are two types of cancers that are invasive and noninvasive breast cancer. About 10% of development of breast cancer is due to inherited genetic mutations.

Breast cancer usually takes ages to develop and show symptoms. Symptoms of the breast cancer are usually formation of the lump, discharge from nipples, changes in skin texture, retraction or indentation of nipple. These symptoms may appear after years of the growth of breast cancer and the early detection via the mammogram may be too late. It is best to lower the risk of getting it. There are no such ways to prevent breast cancer but surely there are some healthy habits that can play a role in lowering the risk:

Breast Cancer

  • Cruciferous vegetables are known to lower the risk of breast cancer. These vegetable belong to the plant genus Brassica. The cruciferous vegetable family consists of radishes, turnips, wasabi, watercress, rutabaga, kale, horseradish, collard greens, cauliflower, cabbages, Brussels sprout, broccoli, bok choy and arugula. These vegetable largely consists of vitamins (C, E and K), fibers, folate, minerals, caretenoids and a chemical substance Glucosinolate.
  • Glucosinolate- is broken into various anti-carcinogen components during chewing and digestion It is a sulfur containing compound and is responsible for the bitter taste and the pungent smell of these veggies. Broken anticancer components from glucosinolates have been tested on mammals proving to help prevent breast cancer. Along with these, cruciferous vegetables are rich in caretenoids that include beta-caroten, lutein and zeaxanthine.
  • Biologically active components- The biologically active components that are obtained from glucosinolate are indoles, thiocyanate, nitrites and isothiocyanate. Isothyocyanates ( sulphorafane) and indole (indole-3-carbinol) have been tested many times on animals for their anticancer effects and have proved to be the most powerful in inhibiting the development of cancer. They have various beneficial properties and thus prevent breast cancer by prevention the DNA damage, inactivation of carcinogens, antiviral effects, antibacterial effects, inititation of apoptosis, anti inflammatory effect and inhibiting angiogenisis. They inhibit the growth of breast cancer with the anti-estrogenic activity. A case study has shown that women who ate more cruciferous vegetables had low risk of breast cancer. [1]
  • Mushrooms – Regular consumption of mushrooms have shown decrease in the breast cancer risk about 60-70%.  Mushrooms play a role in the inhibition of an enzyme known as aromatase that may have a role in the prevention of breast cancer. Aromatase is an important enzyme that helps in the synthesis mechanism of estrogen.
  • Allium vegetables- The vegetables of the genus Allium are onions, garlic, leeks, chives, scallions and shallots. Group of these vegetables have shown to contain hyplipidaemic, anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, anti-thrombic, radio-protective, antiarthritic and hypoglycemic effects. They have also shown to strengthen the immune system. Many anti- carcinogenic compounds have been found in this group of vegetables that are apigenin, quercetinfisetin, diallyl disulfide, kaempferol, ajoene and related chemicals, S-allylcysteine, dipropyl, and various thiosulfinates.
  • Onions and garlic- Both of them also play an important role in the prevention of breast cancer as they contain organosulfur which detoxifies the carcinogens and stops the blood supply of tumors. Garlic is rich in lignan enterolactone and have majority of anti carcinogenic properties including retard growth of cancer cells, cancer cell arrest and initiation of their apoptosis along with the suppression of angiogenesis. It is always recommended to eat onions and garlic in raw form. Try using it more and more in daily cooked dish and also garnishing the meal with garlic and onions. You can also add these to your salad bowl along with green vegetables.

Eating vegetables are the healthy food habits. Cruciferous vegetables are those that lie In the category of dark green vegetables. Consuming dark green, green and some other vegetables like onions, mushrooms and garlic will help in the prevention of breast cancer. Try using these veggies daily in a balanced form. It can be either in the form of salads or juices along with the proper intake of proteins and carbohydrates. Balancing you food plate is important for the best results. Along with these healthy eating habits keep your body hydrated which clears the toxin and thus plays a part in prevention. You also need to keep a regular check on your breast by examining them after post menstrual cycle. If you find any irregularity of the skin, formation of lump or any sort of abnormal sign, rush to your doctor.


[1] Terry P, Wolk A, Persson I, Magnusson C. Brassica vegetables and breast cancer risk. JAMA2001;285(23):2975-2977