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Plant-Based Diet Reduces Breast Cancer Risk by 20%

BOSTON—Women who consume a plant-based diet rich in fruits, vegetables, legumes and grains have a 20% lower risk of developing ER-negative breast cancer than women, according to a new study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology.

Researchers at Simmons College examined the association between the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet score, overall, animal-based, and vegetable-based low-carbohydrate-diet scores, and major plant food groups and the risk of postmenopausal breast cancer in 86,621 women who participated in the Nurses’ Health Study over a 26-year period.

They found women who consumed with diets high in plant foods, but low in red meat, sodium and processed carbohydrates, had a lower risk of developing certain breast tumors. More specifically, they were less likely than other women to develop breast tumors that lack receptors for the hormone estrogen. Estrogen receptor-negative tumors account for about 25% of breast cancers.

Women who were on the DASH diet, which recommends four to five servings of vegetables and fruits each day and four to five servings of legumes, nuts and seeds per week, had a 20% lower risk for developing ER-negative breast cancer than those with the lowest DASH scores. No association was found between ER positive tumors and fruit and vegetable intakes.

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