Sixty percent of Americans claim they have avocados on their favorite foods list. Odds are, you probably do too! But did you know that avocados may also be protective against reproductive cancers like breast cancer as well?
Avocatin B and Carotenoids in Avocados Fight Cancer
Avocados have dozens of benefits for health, not the least of which is the presence of phytonutrients which can target cancer cells.
One substance is Avocatin B. This is a kind of fat unique to this fruit (as a side note, avocados are not a vegetable, but a single-seeded berry). According to a 2015 report published in the journal Cancer Research, Avocatin B was found to fight acute myeloid leukemia (AML), a rare form of cancer. The researchers of the joint study, which hailed from several institutions in Italy and Canada, found that this substance was able to get rid of not only regular cancer cells but also cancer stem cells. Healthy cells remained untouched.
Of equal, if not more, importance on the cancer prevention track are the kinds of antioxidant carotenoids found in avocados. You might remember carotenoids in carrots and other bright fruits and vegetables since it is responsible for creating plant pigment.
According to the California Avocado Commission, avocados contain 11 different kinds of carotenoids. Lutein is one kind that research has shown can affect cancer cells directly. While lutein alone has been found to reduce the risk of prostate cancer in previous studies, a 2005 investigation conducted by researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles found that lutein was even more effective when an extract of whole Hass avocado fruit was introduced to prostate cell lines. Whole avocado was up to 60 percent more effective in going after prostate cancer cells than purified lutein alone.
A 2012 study published in the journal Cancer Causes and Control provided more evidence as to the chemoprotective effects of avocados on prostate cancer. It followed 209 newly-diagnosed men and 226 cancer-free men in Jamaica. In the study, a high intake of monounsaturated fatty acids (in the form of avocados) “reduced the risk of prostate cancer.”
Antioxidants in Avocados Reduces Breast Cancer Risk
No studies have been conducted on avocado extract and breast cancer directly. The results from the prostate studies mentioned above, however, are relevant for anyone who is on a healing path with breast cancer. Some of the same cancer-causing mechanisms exist for breast cancer as with most reproductive cancers in both men and women.
Some studies connection lutein intake with breast cancer prevention directly. According to the Harvard-sponsored Nurses’ Health Study, consuming foods that contain lutein, such as kale, spinach, and avocados, can lower the risk of breast cancer. A 2014 Chinese study also found that higher serum levels of lutein were connected with a 51 percent reduction in breast cancer risk.
As if all this wasn’t enough, avocados are also a high-fiber food, contain significant amounts of essential nutrients like B vitamins and potassium, can help make your hair and skin glow and are great for brain health.
What’s the bottom line? Eating avocados is an all-around win-win for breast and prostate cancer prevention and for your overall good health!