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Plant-Based Diets May Improve Breast Cancer Survival

Released: 16-Apr-2008 8:30 AM EDT
Source Newsroom: Roswell Park Cancer Institute
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Citations 2008 annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research

Newswise — A plant-based diet high in cancer-fighting lignans may be associated with improved survival among postmenopausal women with breast cancer, according to a study presented by Susan E. McCann, Division of Cancer Prevention and Population Sciences, Roswell Park Cancer Institute (RPCI), at the 2008 annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR), April 12-16, in San Diego, CA.

"Dietary lignan intakes and survival in women with breast cancer in the Western New York Exposures and Breast Cancer (WEB) Study"
Abstract # 4162
Embargoed until Tuesday, April 15 " 10:40 am PST
Room 6E, San Diego Convention Center

Lignans are plant compounds found in seeds, whole grains, vegetables and fruits. In laboratory studies, lignans have been shown to impact hormone levels and tumor growth. Researchers from Roswell Park and the University at Buffalo evaluated the dietary lignan intakes of 1,122 women diagnosed with breast cancer who participated in the Western New York Exposures and Breast Cancer Study (WEB Study) between 1996 and 2001. Lignan intake was calculated based on responses to a questionnaire that charted intake of over 100 foods.

The study found that dietary lignan intake had no relevance among premenopausal women with breast cancer. However, in postmenopausal women, those with a high lignan intake were 70% less likely to die from breast cancer.

"This study suggests that certain fruits and vegetables may offer more protection than others. Postmenopausal women diagnosed with breast cancer who reported high intakes of lignans, which in this study were supplied mostly by dark bread, peaches, broccoli, oranges, winter squash, strawberries, coffee and tea, had a statistically significant reduction in death rates," said Dr. McCann.

Roswell Park Cancer Institute, founded in 1898, is the nation's first cancer research, treatment and education center and is the only National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center in Upstate New York. RPCI is a member of the prestigious National Comprehensive Cancer Network, an alliance of the nation's leading cancer centers. Roswell Park has affiliate sites and collaborative programs in New York, Pennsylvania, and in China. For more information, visit RPCI's website at, call 1-877-ASK-RPCI (1-877-275-7724) or e-mail

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