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Increased beta-carotene intakes in adolescence may reduce risk of benign breast disease

April 21, 2014

A new US study reports that adolescent girls with regular high consumption of beta-carotene-rich foods may have a lower risk of developing benign breast disease.

Based on food frequency questionnaires, the observational study estimated the intakes of carotenoids among 6593 adolescent girls (mean age 12 years) and documented cases of benign breast disease (BBD) up to
14 years later (1). The study results showed that participants with the highest beta-carotene intakes had a significantly lower risk of developing BBD, an independent risk factor for breast cancer, when compared to girls with the lowest intakes. Higher intakes of lutein and zeaxanthin were also associated with a reduced BBD risk, but not statistically significant.

The researchers commented that beta-carotene may reduce BBD risk through antioxidative or antiprolifer- ative mechanisms. Exposure to carotenoids may be most important during adolescence when breast tissue is still developing. Non-cancerous (benign) breast conditions are very common and can be found in most women. Certain benign conditions are linked with a higher risk of developing breast cancer in the future. It is recommended to be alert to any changes in breasts and having exams and tests at the earliest possible stage of breast cancer.

References

  1. Boeke C. E. et al. Adolescent Carotenoid Intake and Benign Breast Disease. Pediatrics. Published online April 2014.