Want a nutritious way to honor October’s National Breast Cancer Awareness Month? Munch some celery, parsley, apples, or oranges. All contain apigenin, a compound new research suggests may someday prove an ally in the crusade against breast cancer, which currently afflicts 230,000 American women annually, resulting in nearly 40,000 deaths.

Specifically, a study published in Cancer Prevention Research looked at the interplay of apigenin and hormone replacement therapy (HRT), which millions of women currently rely on to cope with menopause symptoms.Certain synthetic hormones used in HRT have been found to accelerate breast tumor development. Scientists from the University of Missouri treated rats afflicted with hormone-aggravated breast tumors with a regular dose of apigenin. Compared to disease progression in a control group, the apigenin appeared to delay onset of tumors by 38%. After the 60-day trial, the apigenin rats had 72% fewer tumors than the control group. The mechanism: Apigenin suppressed the growth of cancer-feeding blood vessels by 75%.Other basic research suggests apigenin may also help support prostate, colon, skin and thyroid health. Lab investigations also found that apigenin increased effectiveness of chemotherapy. Further study is needed to explore whether eating fruits and vegetables containing apigenin will lower cancer risk — but evidence is mounting in favor of the preventive benefits of a plant-based diet.

In addition to their healthful nutrients, fruit and vegetables also help with weight maintenance, which lowers the risk of developing cancer in the first place, as well as improving the chance of surviving after diagnosis.
Published October 1, 2011