Fruits and veggies may help prevent breast cancer

By Lori Lyle

(LOUISVILLE) -- After huge holiday meals, many people may be thinking about getting back to a healthier diet. Besides keeping you trim, what you eat can also play a big role in whether you get breast cancer. WAVE 3 Medical reporter Lori Lyle explains.

Fruit is a regular guest in Kat Herdlein's home.

"I probably eat about 21 different types of fruits a week," said Herdlein.

As a breast cancer survivor, she hopes all this fruit keeps her cancer from coming back.

"You are foolish not to try everything you know to keep it at bay," Herdlein said.

Researcher Christine Ambrosone is a molecular epidemiologist. She says Katy's taking a smart first step.

"When we think about what causes cancer and how DNA is damaged, some of the components in fruits and vegetables should play a very important role," Ambrosone said.

Ambrosone found just ten servings of fruits and veggies a week lowers breast cancer risk by 1/3 among women with a certain gene most have.

"A glass of orange juice, an apple, you know a vegetable with dinner, vegetable or salad with lunch -- there is your five servings; it's really not difficult or undoable," says Ambrosone.

Another gene increases the risk of breast cancer, but when those women eat lots of fruits and veggies, that inherited risk is greatly reduced.

"Regardless of your genotype, consumption of fruits and vegetables is really important," says Ambrosone.

Fruits and veggies contain powerful antioxidants, and when combined with specific genes, those antioxidants do double duty. But the benefits are not seen in women who take supplements. To reap the fruits-- you have to eat the fruits.

Because these genotypes are so common in women, testing for them is not necessary.
Berries have more antioxidants than any other fruit. One study shows just one cup of berries gives you the antioxidants you need in a single day.

Online Reporter:  Lori Lyle

Online Producer: Charles Gazaway