PhotoYou may have heard of the old adage that “An apple a day keeps the doctor away,” but it may be more true than many of us realized. A new study has linked higher consumption of fruits and vegetables in adolescence with lowered risk of breast cancer later in life.

Up until this point, some experts had posited that eating fruits and vegetables affected breast cancer risk, but many established studies had only analyzed these eating habits for middle-aged or older individuals.

In order to rectify this, a team of researchers followed a group of 90,000 nurses in early adulthood over the course of 20 years, asking the participants to report on their diets and recall how they ate when they were younger. They found that those who consumed a high amount of fruits and vegetables (2.9 servings per day versus .5 servings per day) had a 25% lower risk of breast cancer when they reached middle-age.

The researchers also found that certain fruits and vegetables had particularly strong ties to lower risks of breast cancer. They included foods like apples, bananas, grapes, oranges, and kale.

Interestingly, consumption of fruit juices in adolescence did not have any tangible effect on breast cancer risk, suggesting that eating the whole versions of these products was more beneficial.

The full study has been published in The BMJ.

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