Orange is the New Pink, according to PCRM (Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine). Encouraging women across the country to swap their pink ribbons for orange vegetables can drastically improve their odds of prevention and survival in the battle against breast cancer.
In a study of 103 women in Australia, who were followed for six years after they were diagnosed with breast cancer, those who consumed the most fruits and vegetables rich in beta-carotene or vitamin C had the best chance for survival. Similarly, a study of Canadian women with breast cancer found that those getting the most beta-carotene and vitamin C had significantly better survival odds. The more of these nutrients they got, the better they did! Those who got more than 5 milligrams of beta-carotene per day had DOUBLE the likelihood of survival compared to women who got less than 2 milligrams. 5 milligrams is about half a medium carrot, or one quarter cup of cooked sweet potato.
If you're thinking you can just go pop a pill of beta-carotene though, don't be fooled. The research shows that those whose diets were high in beta-carotene (think orange and red fruits and vegetables, and dark leafy greens!) had protective effects, but those who used supplements of beta-carotene were actually more likely to develop cancer. The reasons aren't entirely clear, but it might be that since supplements deliver high doses of only one antioxidant, they interfere with the absorption of others. In addition, the fresh fruits and vegetables that have all that beta-carotene in them also have many other protective effects against cancer, including antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals.
Go to your local Farmers Market today, and grab some beta-carotene!