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Originally published August 2 2009

Eat Your Carrots and Lower Your Risk of Breast Cancer

by Kathleen Barnes

(NaturalNews) There is mounting scientific evidence that women who eat a diet rich in carotenoids have substantially lower risk of breast cancer. The most recent studies show that the nutrients that give fruits and vegetables their yellow, orange and red colors can offer breast cancer protection to women at any stage of life, even those who have already survived breast cancer.

In separate studies, scientists from Harvard and New York`s Albert Einstein College of Medicine have confirmed the value of carotenoid-rich diets even for women with deadly invasive breast cancer.

Among the 5,450 postmenopausal women Albert Einstein researchers studied over an 8-year period, those who consumed the most carotenoid-laden vegetables cut their risk of invasive breast cancer nearly in half.

The Harvard study went a step further by concluding that carotenoid consumption might even protect premenopausal women who had been smokers.

A study published earlier this year concludes that a carotenoid-rich diet can prevent breast cancer from returning.

Carotenoids are brightly colored fat-soluble pigments in fruits and vegetables that are part of the Vitamin A molecule. As strong antioxidants, carotenoids protect cells and tissues from disease-causing oxygen free radicals. They are also known to strengthen immune function and cell-to-cell communication.

Beta-carotene, perhaps the best known in this family of more than 600 carotenoids, has been credited with life-extending provitamin A activity that helps boost the immune system, among other functions.

Get your carotenoids from any bright red, yellow or orange fruits or vegetable, including carrots, red peppers, tomatoes squash, pumpkin, peaches, apricots and sweet potatoes. They`re also found in spinach, kale and other dark green vegetables.

Cooking the foods can, in some cases, actually increase the bioavailability of carotenoids. Lycopene, a carotenoid that has been shown to be protective in a number of hormonally related cancers, actually becomes more usable to the human body after it is cooked. You`ll find lots of lycopene in tomatoes, watermelon and papayas.

Researchers haven`t yet identified the specific cancer-protective property in carotenoid-rich foods, but their role in improving cell-to-cell communication is likely to have a role in the equation. Carotenoids are believed to have a role in female reproduction, possibility-providing researchers with a clue to their breast cancer protective nature.

Eating foods containing animal-based vitamin A molecules called retinols have also been shown to protect against breast cancer. Retinols are found in abundance in liver, butter and eggs.


Mignone, LI, Giovannucci E, Dietary carotenoids and the risk of invasive breast cancer. (International Journal of Cancer, 2009 Jun 15; 124(12):2929-37.

Rock CL, Natarajan L, Longitudinal biological exposure to carotenoids is associated with breast cancer-free free survival in the Women's Healthy Eating and Living Study. Cancer Epidemiology , Biomarkers and Prevention. 2009 Feb; 18(2):486-94.

Bonanni B, Lazzeroni M, Retinoids and breast cancer prevention. Recent results in Cancer Research 2009;181:77-82.

Formelli F, Meneghini E, Plasma retinol and prognosis of postmenopausal breast cancer patients. Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers and Prevention. 2009 Jan;18(1): 42-8.

About the author

Kathleen Barnes is author co-author or editor of 13 books most of them on natural health and sustainable living subjects. She has recently launched the 8 Weeks to Vibrant Health coaching package with Dr. Hyla Cass. As a longtime natural health columnist for a large women's weekly, Kathleen saw the gap between the needs of health care consumers and the self-interest of the medical profession and drug companies. Read more of Kathleen's work and read her blog on her website,

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