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Plant Compounds May Lower Breast Cancer Risk

Lignans may lower risk of estrogen receptor- and progesterone receptor-positive breast cancers in postmenopausal women

FRIDAY, March 23 (HealthDay News) -- Postmenopausal women who consume large amounts of lignans, phytoestrogens found in plants, have a lower risk of developing estrogen receptor- and progesterone receptor-positive breast cancer, researchers report in the March 21 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

Francoise Clavel-Chapelon, Ph.D., and colleagues from Institut Gustave-Roussy in Villejuif, France, prospectively examined the association between exposure to phytoestrogens (dietary exposure to four types of plant lignans and estimated exposure to two enterolignans) and the risk of invasive breast cancer in 58,049 postmenopausal French women. Lignan exposure was determined through a self-administered diet history questionnaire.

After a median follow-up of 7.7 years, there were 1,469 diagnosed cases of breast cancer. Women who consumed more than 1,395 micrograms per day of lignans (top 25 percent) had a significantly lower risk of breast cancer (relative risk 0.83), as did women who were in the top 25 percent for consumption of the plant lignan lariciresinol (RR, 0.82). The reduced risk was observed only for estrogen receptor- and progesterone receptor-positive cancers, the researchers report.

"High dietary intakes of plant lignans and high exposure to enterolignans were associated with reduced risks of estrogen receptor- and progesterone receptor-positive postmenopausal breast cancer in a Western population that does not consume a diet rich in soy," the authors conclude.

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