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Brain-Boosting Nutrient Also Protects Breast, In One Study

Women with the highest choline intake have a 24% reduced risk of developing breast cancer, according to a study published this month. Choline is known as a key nutrient supporting fetal brain development.Now the scientist who pioneered research into choline’s role during pregnancy has co-authored a groundbreaking new study which reveals choline’s potential to protect against breast cancer as well.

Professor Steven Zeisel of the University of North Carolina co-authored the new NIH-funded study which looked at breast cancer rates and choline intake among 3,000 women.In the study, those with an average choline intake of 455mg/day (a little higher than the established adequate intake of 425mcg) had a 24% lower risk of developing breast cancer than those with the lowest intake (average of 196mg/day).

From where did the high-intake group in the study get their choline? Eggs and skim milk, among other sources.This echoed earlier research which found that egg-eating adolescent girls report less incidence of breast cancer later on in life.While a single large poached egg contains about 100mg of choline, it also contains 211mg of cholesterol and 8% of your daily saturated fat limit. Cholesterol- and fat-free choline sources include: broccoli (63mg/cup, cooked, chopped), cauliflower (45mg/cup, raw), potatoes (45mg/large baked w/skin), green cabbage (30mg/cup, cooked), peanuts (15mg/oz) and oranges (12mg/fruit).

Choline is not the only nutrient possibly linked to lower breast cancer risk — compounds in cruciferous veggies such as cauliflower, cabbage and broccoli also have a chemo-protective effect in lab research.Apples, cranberries and tomatoes might contribute to a breast cancer prevention diet as well.

Such filling, high-fiber, low-calorie fare also helps women avoid excess weight, which not only raises the risk of developing breast cancer in the first place, but doubles her chances of dying from the disease. Alcohol and French fries not only make it harder to maintain a healthy weight, they raise breast cancer risk in and of themselves. Stepping up your exercise routine can also help stave off breast cancer: 6 hours of vigorous physical activity a week could slash your risk by 27%.

Published June 1, 2008

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