Yes, it’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month, so of course we’re going to be bombarded with studies and stats about breast cancer. Just last week I wrote about a study that stated two hours a week of vigorous exercise reduces by 64 percent the rate of breast cancer in black women.
Now we hear that eating just two servings of veggies a day reduces our risk of “estrogen receptor-negative breast cancer.” No, I don’t know what that means, either, so I googled it. It means breast cancer cells that do not have estrogen receptors (which is sorta self-explanatory). Normal breast cells always have receptors for estrogen. Cancer cells arising in the breast sometimes do, sometimes don’t. The estrogen receptor-negative cells are seriously bad news, because their growth cannot be controlled by estrogen or the drug tamoxifen, which works by blocking the interaction between estrogen and the estrogen receptor.
I pray to God that’s the last time I’ll ever have to figure out breast cancer nomenclature. But about that study . . .
Seems the good folks at the Boston University School of Medicine followed about 52,000 women for 12 years who participated in the Black Women’s Health Study. In that time period, 1,268 women developed breast cancer. Among those for which the receptor status was known, 35 percent were estrogen receptor-negative/progesterone receptor negative (ER-PR-). When the investigators checked out what the ladies were eating, they found that the incidence of this terrible form of cancer was 43 percent lower among women who ate at least two vegetables daily. This is compared to women who ate fewer than four vegetables a week.
Remember, white women are diagnosed with breast cancer more often than any other ethnic group. However, African American women are more likely than white women to have estrogen receptor-negative tumors, and are more likely to die from breast cancer than any other ethnic group.
I know. It really sucks.
The good news is that if we increase our intake of vegetables – and something tells me this does not include collard greens cooked for hours in with ham hocks and cups of salt – we might decrease our breast cancer risk. Specifically, eating broccoli, cabbage, mustard greens (yuck!), kale, cauliflower and other cruciferous veggies because they contain glucosinolates, which Google says boosts estrogen metabolism and detoxification. Carrots are good because of carotenoid things.
Sounds like a good workout followed by some green, crunchy veggies is a great one-two punch in the fight against breast cancer. Then there’s the lovely side effect of weight loss and good health.
Here’s my favorite way to prepare broccoli. I tried after watching 30 Minute Meals a year or so ago. I never watch Rachael Ray or anything else on Food Network, but it’s usually on when I’m trapped in the chair getting my locs tightened. The recipe calls for broccolini, but you can substitute broccoli stalks or even florets.
· 1 ½ pounds broccolini
· 2 to 3 cloves garlic
· Extra virgin olive oil
· Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Trim ends of clean broccolini and scatter evenly over a baking sheet. Grate or chop 2 to 3 cloves of garlic and drizzle the broccolini and garlic with olive oil, then season with salt and pepper and roast 12 to 15 minutes to crisp the broccolini tops.
I don't want any vegetables, thank you. I paid for the cow to eat them for me. ~ Doug Coupland
Leslie J. Ansley is an award-winning journalist and entrepreneur who blogs daily for TheRoot. She lives in Raleigh, NC.