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Anti-Breast Cancer Diet: Coffee, Parsley, Celery

May 11, 2011
Written by: , Filed in: Breast Imaging
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Drinking lots of coffee can significantly reduce the risk of one subtype of breast cancer among postmenopausal women, according to a new study published in the May issue of Breast Cancer Research.

Researchers at Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden, conducted the study. They concluded:

Our main finding was that coffee consumption was associated with a strong reduction in breast cancer risk for the ER-negative tumour subtype.

Breast cancer can be divided into two subtypes: hormone responsive, or estrogen receptor (ER) positive, and non–hormone responsive, or ER negative. As a Karolinska Institutet news release explained: “Approximately one third of all breast cancers are ER-negative, and cancers of this ER subtype are highly age dependent and generally have a more aggressive clinical course than hormone receptor–positive disease.”

The researchers noted that a similar German study showed a similar but much weaker association between coffee consumption and ER-negative breast cancer.

“We suggest that this may have something to do with the way the coffee was prepared or the type of bean preferred,” said Jingmei Li, PhD, who led the study. “We cannot say which mechanism lies behind the beneficial effect of coffee yet.”

Meanwhile, in Missouri, researchers have found that apigenin, a compound found in parsley, celery, and other plants, seems to inhibit breast tumor growth, at least in rats. The study was published online last month in Breast Cancer Research.

Salman Hyder, PhD, one of the study’s authors, said he thought the results might have particular implications for women undergoing hormone replacement therapy (HRT). Dr. Hyder is a professor in tumor angiogenesis and biomedical sciences at the College of Veterinary Medicine and the Dalton Cardiovascular Research Center at the University of Missouri.

“Six to 10 million women in the United States receive hormone replacement therapy,” Dr. Hyder said. “We know that certain synthetic hormones used in HRT accelerate breast tumor development. In our study, we exposed the rats to one of the chemicals used in the most common HRTs received in the United States—a progestin called medroxyprogesterone acetate—which also happens to be the same synthetic hormone that accelerates breast tumor development.”

The apigenin blocked the formation of the new blood vessels required to feed tumors. The substance can be found not only in parsley and celery, but also in apples, oranges, nuts, and other plant products. It’s not absorbed efficiently into the bloodstream, so the researchers don’t yet have a recommended human dosage. Nor have they tested to determine whether there are any health or safety issues.

Still, a diet heavy in coffee, parsley, and celery might not be a bad idea.

Related seminar: Pittsburgh Breast Imaging Seminar

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