Breast Cancer Risk From Grapefruit
I just love fruits and vegetables. They’re good for you, right? So, the more you eat of them the healthier you should be. Not so, as we all know. Chemical residue like pesticides and fungicides used on veggies and fruits can be very harmful. This is why organic produce is better for you. So you assume that as long as you stick to organic foods you should be safe. If only this were true. How so? Grapefruit is a case in point.
For the past few weeks, I’ve been enjoying grapefruit in my morning fresh fruit and vegetable juice. This citrus fruit always reminds me of holiday time. It was when I first went overseas that I first tasted it, halved, segmented, and sprinkled with sugar. I’ve associated it with being on vacation ever since.
Grapefruit has a fragrant aroma and taste that is so refreshing so, when it was in abundant supply recently, I thought I would add it to my fresh juice mix for extra zest and flavor. It was certainly delicious. I enjoyed it in my juice everyday for almost 6 weeks. Then yesterday I read something which made me toss out all the grapefruits in my fridge.
A study reported in the British Journal of Cancer, July 10, 2007, found that grapefruit intake was significantly associated with an increased risk of breast cancer. The increased risk was comparable to the increased risk seen in women taking hormone substitution drugs as part of traditional hormone replacement therapy or HRT. The study was based on data collected for the Multiethnic Cohort Study that involved 50,000 postmenopausal women spanning five ethnic groups.
Researchers from the University of Southern California and the University of Hawaii found that women who ate a quarter of a grapefruit or more every day had a higher risk of breast cancer – as much as 30% – than those who did not eat the fruit at all. Previous studies showed that an enzyme called cytochrome P4503A4 (CYP3A4) is involved in breaking down and metabolising estrogen hormones. A certain compound found in grapefruit and grapefruit juice inhibits this enzyme. If estrogens are not metabolised, excessive levels can accumulate in the body. Estrogen receptor positive or estrogen dominant breast cancer is fuelled by an excessive production of estrogen.
Ironically, citrus fruits in general inhibit estrogen production so, if you have estrogen receptor positive breast cancer, citrus fruits are good for you. Grapefruit is the exception. Some people feel that more research needs to be done to confirm the link between grapefruit and increased estrogen levels. A more recent report published in the same journal found no rise in breast cancer risk with grapefruit and grapefruit juice consumption. The researchers used data from the Nurses’ Health Study , which followed 77,000 women aged 30-55 years for many years. That Study involved both post-menopausal and younger women.
I’m taking no chances. Grapefruit will never have the same magic for me ever again. Sigh!