Although the evidence is inconsistent, women who have substantial intake of carotenoids in their diets appear to have lower risks of breast cancer and breast cancer recurrence than women with low intake. Population studies have uncovered differences in the chemopreventive activities of carotenoids according to breast cancer type and other factors.

A Scandinavian study found that dietary (but not supplemental) beta-carotene had a protective effect against lobular breast cancer in postmenopausal women. Another European study reported that high intake of beta-carotene was protective against breast cancer in postmenopausal women using hormone replacement therapy (HRT). The same study also found that dietary beta-carotene was associated with lowered risk of breast cancer in postmenopausal women with high alcohol consumption. A U.S. study reported that high consumption of carotenoids may reduce the risk of premenopausal but not postmenopausal breast cancer, particularly among smokers. Now a new Chinese study has reported that most carotenoids are associated with reduced breast cancer risk.

Recommended food sources of carotenoids

Below are very good food sources of carotenoids that have also been reported to be associated with reduced risk of breast cancer:

Arugula
Bell peppers
Broccoli
Brussels sprouts
Carrots
Collard greens
Hot peppers
Kale
Lettuce, romaine
Mustard greens

Pumpkins
Saffron
Seaweed
Squash
Tomatoes
Turnip greens
Watercress
Watermelon
Zucchini

Latest research finds most carotenoids are linked to reduced breast cancer risk

The study referenced at the beginning of this news story was designed to investigate the association between dietary carotenoid intake and breast cancer risk among Chinese women. The study included 561 women with breast cancer and 561 matched cancer-free controls. Dietary intake information was assessed by personal interviews using a validated food frequency questionnaire.

The consumption of α-carotene, β-carotene, β-cryptoxanthin and lutein/zeaxanthin was found to be inversely related to breast cancer risk. On the other hand, lycopene intake was not found to be associated with the risk of breast cancer. The protective effect of carotenoids held for all types of hormone receptor status. The risk reduction was higher among premenopausal women and women who were exposed to second-hand smoke. The authors conclude that greater intake of specific carotenoids was associated with a reduced risk of breast cancer among the study population.