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Preventing Breast Cancer By Any Greens Necessary

Which was associated with lowest breast cancer risk in African-American women? Apples, bananas, broccoli, cabbage, cantaloupe, carrots, collard greens, grapefruit, oranges, spinach, tomatoes, or sweet potatoes?

December 28, 2012 |
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Recently a study of 50,000 African-American women was published, a sadly neglected demographic when it comes to nutritional science—and, medical research in general actually. Fruit and vegetable intake in relation to risk of breast cancer in the Black Women’s Health Study. Those who listened to mom and ate their veggies had significantly lower risk of the nastiest type of breast cancer—estrogen receptor negative, because it’s so hard to treat. Any plants particularly protective? Out of all the fruits and vegetables they looked at, two stood above the rest. Which two do you think they were? They specifically looked at apples, bananas, broccoli, cabbage, cantaloupe, carrots, collard greens, grapefruit, oranges, spinach, tomatoes, and sweet potatoes. And for those of you who are thinking, you can’t compare apples to oranges-well they just did! What do you think they found? Although, broccoli consumption appeared especially protective in premenopausal women, for women of all ages, winner #1 was collards. No surprise. It’s cruciferous, it’s a dark green leafy. It’s like kale! What’s not to like! But winner #2 was a shocker. Carrots! Which Tracy featured on the cover of her great book, along, with, collards. As one researcher suggested, “A whole-food vegan diet rich in fruits and vegetables, especially if coupled with regular exercise and smoking avoidance, could be expected to have a remarkably positive impact on African- American cancer risk, reversing the increases in cancer risk incurred during the 20th century.”

To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by Ashley Rhinehart, RN.

To help out on the site please email

Dr. Michael Greger

Doctor's Note

For more on breast cancer prevention and diet, see yesterday's video-of-the-day Why Do Asian Women Have Less Breast Cancer?

More on collards in Eating Green to Prevent Cancer, Prevent Glaucoma and See 27 Miles Farther, and Egg Industry Blind Spot. More on carrots in Benzene in Carrot Juice, Crop Nutrient Decline, and Best Cooking Method. And more on broccoli and breast cancer, see DNA Protection From Broccoli, Broccoli Versus Breast Cancer Stem Cells, and Sulforaphane From Broccoli to Breast.

Certain African populations were among the healthiest on Earth, inspiring one of America's lifestyle medicine pioneers. See Engineering a Cure. Sadly, African-Americans suffer disproportionately from chronic diseases, but the good news is that many of them—such as high blood pressure and diabetes—can be prevented, stopped, and reversed with a healthy plant-based diet. Check out Tracye's website By Any Greens Necessary.

Please also check out my associated blog posts for more context: Mushrooms for Breast Cancer PreventionPrevent Breast Cancer by Any Greens Necessary, and Breast Cancer & Alcohol: How Much Is Safe?

If you haven't yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here.

  • Tracye McQuirter

    Hi, Michael.
    Thank you so much for letting us know about this important breast cancer study and for featuring my book. What a wonderful surprise!

    All the best,


  • Thea

    Thank you for this video and including a reference to the book. I know an African-American woman who is just starting to think about eating vegan. She is starting to explore recipes, but has not thought too much about the bigger picture. I think this book will be perfect for her. Cool!

  • म्लेच्छ

    From what Ayurveda and Chinese medicine say (and my own experience, that’s what counts, learning how to observe), I was never convinced carrots were of no use. :)

    As for collards, do you think there’s any reason to eat them (or kale) over brussels sprouts? I can understand some cruciferous (like purple cabbage) have unique compounds (though they can be found elsewhere) though remember the older studies. I tend to combine vegetables: root, cruciferous and green leafy, often with brussels sprouts and spinach since they differ in species. Think there are unique properties to kale, collards, and other leafy cruciferous that would make you think there’s a reason to eat them?

    As for other parts of my diet, I tend to vary ingredients and ratio. But generally it’s mainly barley, millet, red and purple rice, and mung beans (sometimes azuki, kidney, chick peas, and urad dal). Very infrequently other grains though Job’s tears is said to be best for losing weight and reducing phlegm; and it is also used for cancer.

  • Ellen Jaffe Jones

    My mom, aunt, and both sisters had breast cancer. One of them 3 times. We were part of the original breast cancer gene studies. A vegan diet for most of the past 32 years, combined with placing in 3 dozen 5 or 10K races for my age group since ’08 (I’ve been a runner for 3 decades too, but only started placing as my meat-eating arthritic colleagues developed arthritis and dropped out.) is magical. You’d think docs would be lined up at my door to study what I’ve been doing differently for decades. No money in broccoli. Thanks for your as usual, great video, Dr. Greger!

    • Tan Truong

      Great story! I’m a runner myself. Placed pretty fast for my first half-marathon, running plants. :)

  • Laloofah

    I’m confused by the findings of this study regarding carrots, since it seems to be in direct conflict with the carrot findings in the study you shared in your #1 Anticancer Vegetable video (, which showed no protection against any of the cancers in that study, including breast, prostate and stomach cancer. Can you explain how these two results can be so different? We’re vegan and enjoy raw carrots and eat them often, and know they’re nutritious and good for eyesight and other things, but are wondering how protective they really are ~ especially against breast and prostate cancer. Thank you!! I enjoy your videos!

  • BeetsBeansButts

    haha The apples to oranges comment made me laugh.

    Thanks for including the stupid jokes and puns Dr. Greger, it makes these videos fun.

  • Dan M

    I love your videos! You have completely changed the way I eat! I’ve been reading a lot recently about how wild produce is so much healthier than what we find in the supermarket. I know it’s a long shot, but I’m hoping that you can do a video talking about this. I’m especially interested in knowing about how healthy dandelion leaves are because they grow everywhere near me. Thanks for all you do!

  • Kirk rogers

    Were collards number one for African American Woman because that is a staple of their diet? For instance would that play out against the mushroom green tea combo if African American Woman consumed those in larger quantities?

  • Chris

    Thank you for sharing this! Being a breast cancer survivor I know we need more prevention not just awareness! Eating healthy & going non toxic with your everyday products for personal care and household use is key:)