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April 6, 2012 at 11:35 AMComments: 6 Faves: 0

Take THAT, Cancer: Eating Green Veggies Boosts Survival Rates

By Laura Hogg More Blogs by This Author

Welcome back to FitChatter! This week in the news – good news for kale lovers everywhere: a new study shows that breast cancer patients who regularly enjoy cruciferous veggies have much higher survival rates!

“Eat your veggies!”

It’s a cry that many of us are all-too familiar with. (Not me, though – I was the weirdo kid who loved Brussels sprouts.) Most of us know that we’re supposed to eat several servings of veggies a day. But just how important is that leafy green stuff?

Well, according to new analysis, they just might make the difference between life and death.

The research team examined data from the Shanghai Breast Cancer Survival Study, a study that looked at 4,886 Chinese breast cancer patients diagnosed between 2002 and 2006. After they adjusted for variables (demographic, lifestyle, etc.), they noticed an interesting correlation: the more cruciferous veggies in the women’s diets, the lower their risk of death or cancer recurrence.

Compared with women who ate the smallest amount, women who ate the most leafy greens were found to have a 62 percent lower risk of both total mortality and breast cancer mortality. They also showed a 35 percent lower risk for cancer recurrence.

So what’s the secret of these nutritional powerhouses? Phytochemicals. Specifically, cruciferous veggies such as bok choy, kale, and broccoli contain phytochemicals called isothiocyanates and indoles. And those apparently make cancer quake in its boots.

Basically, if other veggies are well-trained fighters, cruciferous veggies are Superman. Minus the whole kryptonite thing.

The use of nutrition to combat cancer is controversial to say the least – it’s actually illegal to use it as the sole form of treatment, if I’m not mistaken. But I think we can all agree that cancer patients, more than anyone, need high-quality nutrition as fuel to help their bodies fight off the disease. (You can’t really go on a road trip without filling up on gas, right?) And though further studies should be done, these results are pretty hard to argue with.

What if hospitals – instead of serving Jell-O and white bread – invested in a juicer and some locally-grown kale? What if they fed their patients green smoothies, rich salads and colorful entrees, such as the recipes below? 

Broccoli Salad

Winter Vitamin Cocktail (Kale, apples, lemon)

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Pecans

What do you think of the results of this study? Do you think that nutrition should be a part of cancer treatment? How would you change hospital food?


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  • Honestly, this would revolutionize hospital food!

    Don't get me wrong, I am someone who loves eating fatty foods, and i definitely don't eat the most healthy a lot of the time. BUT, hospitals should give people more of a choice on what they can eat. That way people can choose to eat unhealthy or healthy...they aren't just forced into picking up the only things that are offered like greasy pizza...even tho it's tempting :D

  • I'm not sure how I feel about this blog! Now days we have to take everything with a grain of salt! I do know however that the Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Pecans looks very delicious!

  • It's a really impressive study - nearly 5,000 women! I think the size and prestige of the study lends credibility to the results. If the numbers were lower, I might be a bit skeptical of the correlation - but a 62% lower mortality rate is nothing to sneeze at.

    We live in an age where there's "a pill for every ill." I'm not saying that there's no place for drugs like those in chemotherapy. But if it might be possible to lower our dependence on harmful drugs by using good old-fashioned nutrition...shouldn't we explore that possibility?

  • I think that it is a great idea to supplement your diet with these disgusting foods. :-) I mean, really, would I rather eat broccoli or get chemo? That's not even a question! I may not love brussel sprouts or kale, but I can ingest that a whole lot easier than cancer treatments. But clearly if I supply those in my diet now, before the diseases strike, it will help fend those diseases off, which is the most important thing.

    Good blog, it really opened my eyes to eating those green veggies.

  • That broccoli salad looks delicious! I definitely think hospitals should be serving healthier foods. The challenge of course, is to get people to eat healthy throughout their lives, so they don't arrive at the hospital because of poor nutrition. Great post!

  • Great Blog!!!!

    Can we get the recipes for the above? The Broccoli Salad does look yummy! I would like to try that :-)

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