High fruit consumption during adolescence may be associated with lower breast cancer risk, a BMJ study has found.
Fruit and vegetables are thought to protect against breast cancer, but, until now most research had focussed on eating fruit during midlife and later, which may be, researchers say, after the period when breast tissue is most vulnerable to carcinogenic influences.
So a team of US researchers sought to find out whether fruit and vegetable consumption might affect subsequent breast cancer risk.
They followed 90,000 nurses for more than 20 years who reported their diet in early adulthood and who remembered their diet during childhood.
They found high fruit consumption during childhood (2.9 servings a day) was associated with a roughly 25 per cent lower risk of breast cancer diagnosed in middle age.
In particular, greater consumption of apple, banana and grapes during adolescence, as well as oranges and kale during early adulthood was significantly associated with a reduced breast cancer risk.
The authors say the findings are in line with cancer prevention advice to eat more fruits and vegetables, and suggest that food choices during childhood appear to be particularly important.
These foods “have well known beneficial effects on health, and efforts should continue to increase intake of both fruit and vegetables at all ages.”