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Breast Cancer

Grapefruit linked to breast cancer

08/10/2007

Question:

According to the British Journal of Cancer, eating 1 quarter of grapefruit a day increases the risk of getting breast cancer by 30%. Please confirm.

Thanks

Answer:

The headlines regarding this recently published paper are much stronger than the conclusions reached in the actual paper.  Grapefruit juice has been shown to inhibit an enzyme that metabolizes a number of drugs and can affect their levels in the body.  One of the substances that this enzyme affects is estrogen.  The study was a questionnaire study that asked people how much grapefruit they ate and looked at the breast cancer rate in these individuals.  Since this is the only study that has addressed this issue, it is too early to take this as fact.  More studies need to be done to validate these findings, as the authors clearly state in the paper:

"It is biologically plausible that grapefruit intake may increase the risk of breast cancer among postmenopausal women. However, the results of the present study need to be confirmed in other studies with more comprehensive measures of grapefruit intake that include both the whole fruit and grapefruit juice."

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Response by:

Doreen M Agnese, MD Doreen M Agnese, MD
Clinical Associate Professor of Surgery and Internal Medicine
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University