Women who ate nearly three servings of fruit daily when they were teens had a 25% lower risk of getting breast cancer when they were adults than those who ate half a serving, according to a new study from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
The study drew on data from more than 44,000 participants in the Nurses’ Health Study who answered questions about their eating habits as teens.
Apples, bananas, and grapes seemed to confer the most protection. Maryam Farvid, visiting scientist in the Department of Global Health and Population at Harvard Chan School and lead author of the study, said in a May 11, 2016 Time magazine article that fiber in these fruits could help reduce cancer risk. They’re also high in flavonoids—antioxidants that combat cell damage that can trigger abnormal growth. Farvid said it’s better to eat whole fruit than to drink fruit juice because juice often has no fiber in it.
“This study underscores the importance of what a young girl eats for her future health,” Farvid said. “This study also has an important message for schools and the need to provide students with the opportunity to consume more fruits and vegetables as part of the school meal program.”