Researchers from Germany looked at diets of postmenopausal women to determine if any foods were associated with a decreased risk of developing breast cancer.1 High and low consumption of soybeans, sunflower seeds, and pumpkin seeds was associated with a 34 to 17 percent decreased risk of developing breast cancer compared to those who ate none of these foods.
The protective effect of these foods may be due to their phytoestrogen content. Phytoestrogens are a group of plant substances with lignans being one of the major classes of phytoestrogens. These substances are thought to bind to estrogen receptors in humans, interfering with the cancer-promoting effect of estrogen on breast tissue. Other important vegetables and fruits with phytoestrogens are flax seeds, sesame seeds, rye, wheat, and oat barley, apricots, strawberries, and cruciferous (crunchy) vegetables like broccoli and cauliflower.
Researchers have found yet another reason to increase dietary intake of fruits and vegetables. For more information about the USDA dietary recommendations, visit Prevention and Guidelines.