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Eat Orange Foods to Reduce Breast Cancer Risk

Update Date: Dec 10, 2012 06:33 AM EST

A new study suggests that women who have high levels of carotenoids in their blood are at a lowered risk of contacting breast cancer.

Carotenoids are organic pigments that are found in the chloroplasts and chromoplasts of plants and other photosynthetic organisms like algae, some bacteria, and some fungi.

According to the website World's Healthiest Foods, high-carotenoid foods are a source of vitamin A, they protect cells from the damaging effects of free radicals, are high in antioxidants, enhance immune system functioning and also contribute to healthy functioning of the reproductive system.

In a new research, A. Heather Eliassen of the Channing Division of Network Medicine, the Department of Medicine at Brigham & Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School, and colleagues, by conducting an analysis of eight studies involving more than 3,000 case subjects and 3,956 matched control subjects, linked higher levels of the pigments to reduced breast cancer risk.

The study's findings showed stronger evidence for estrogen receptor-breast cancers - which grow in response to the hormone estrogen.

"The inverse associations we observed among ER-negative tumors highlight carotenoids as one of the first modifiable risk factors for this poor prognosis tumor type," the study authors wrote in the study.

There is also evidence that carotenoids can inhibit the growth of ER-positive breast cancers, it is possible that its effect is hidden by hormone-related associations which overpower other risk factors, upi.com reported.

However, "a diet high in carotenoid-rich fruits and vegetables offers many health benefits, including a possible reduced risk of breast cancer," the researchers said.

Carotenoid is found in carrots, apricots, mangoes, squash, papaya and sweet potatoes. Green vegetables such as spinach, kale and collard greens also contain beta-carotene, and are the best sources of lutein, the report said.

Salmon, shellfish, milk and egg yolks are also sources which provide carotenoids.

The study was published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

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