Like carrots, celery, cumin, and parsley, dill (Anethum graveolens) is an apiaceous vegetable. Fresh dill is a dietary source of vitamin C, manganese, and iron, and also contains monoterpenes (carvone, D-limonene, anethofuran) and flavonoids (quercetin, kaempferol, isorhamnetin) that give it it's unique flavor. Dill also contains beta-carotene and other carotenoids, coumarins, myristicin and dillapiole. Dill has been shown to have anti-inflammatory, antifungal, antibacterial, insecticidal and antioxidant properties and may improve cholesterol profile and glucose metabolism. Dill has been found to have antibacterial activity against H. pylori infection, suggesting anti-ulcer properties. One study found that dill seed extract reduced gastric irritation in mice by protecting the gastric mucosa.
Breast cancer-related effects of eating dill
Dill has been shown to reduce DNA damage and inhibit estrogen metabolism in the laboratory. Dill has been used in several traditional medicine systems to increase milk production in breast-feeding women and also in cattle for the same purpose. Since its use as an aid to lactation has been widespread and continues today, it is likely that dill is effective in this regard, but the mechanism of action has not been explained and the implications for breast cancer risk are not clear.
One study using a rat model found that rats fed high dose dill extracts had longer estrous cycles and increased blood progesterone concentrations than controls, results which are suggestive but again difficult to interpret in light of the high doses used in the experiment. Based on the available evidence, the amounts of dill normally used as a herb or spice in food probably are safe, however very frequent or highly concentrated uses (such as in dill pesto sauce) might not be.
Only small quantities of fresh dill should be consumed during chemotherapy since its high quercetin level could interfere with treatment. Quercetin has been shown to reduce the cytotoxicity of Adriamycin, Taxol, cisplatin, and 5-Fluorouracil.
Fresh dill is widely available in the produce department of most markets. Both dill weed (the dried leaves) and dill seed come from the same plant. Dill essential oil has been found to be induce chromosome aberrations and be cytotoxic for normal cells and should be avoided.
Note that while we are continually searching for new evidence specifically concerning this food, there is not much interest in it among breast cancer researchers, so few studies are available.