Up to 15% of invasive breast cancers are classified as estrogen receptor positive and progesterone receptor negative (ER+/PR-). In other words, the relevant genes cause the cancer cells to express estrogen receptors, but not progesterone receptors. Compounds that regulate ER or PR expression, oppose the production of estrogen in the body (i.e., oppose aromatase) or inhibit estrogen binding to estrogen receptors are among those used to treat this type of breast cancer. Tumors with a large number of estrogen receptors are associated with a better the prognosis than those with few. However, ER+/PR- breast cancer patients may be more likely than ER+/PR+ patients to benefit from epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) inhibitors and possibly from foods that inhibit the EGFR receptor.
Foods that increase the risk of ER+/PR- breast cancer
Significant associations have been found between carbohydrate intake, glycemic load and higher risk of ER+/PR- breast cancer. This suggests that women with ER+/PR- breast cancer should avoid foods such as white bread, cakes and sugar, as well as refraining from eating meals with a high overall glycemic load. Alcohol and pan-fried red meat have also been found to be associated with higher risk of ER+/PR- breast cancer, as is use of hormone replacement therapy (HRT). The following foods have the potential to increase the risk of ER+/PR- breast cancer.
- Bread, white
- Cookies, candy and cake
- Cornflakes and similar breakfast cereals
- Plantains, fried ripe
- Potatoes, white
- Red meat, fried
- Rice, white
- Sweet desserts
Foods that may reduce the risk of ER+/PR- breast cancer
There are only a few studies that specifically have examined associations between various foods or micronutrients and ER+/PR- breast cancer risk. Based on the limited available evidence, foods that are good dietary sources of apigenin, folate, or enterolactone, or that have components shown to inhibit EGFR (epidermal growth factor receptor) activity have the potential to reduce ER+/PR- breast cancer risk or its recurrence.
ER+/PR- breast cancer patients and survivors would benefit from eating a wide variety of the foods on our recommended food list and limit or avoid those on our avoid list, in addition to paying particular attention to the foods on the lists above. Please see our article on how to optimize your breast cancer diet for information on what to eat during all stages of treatment and recovery.
Below are links to recent studies on ER+/PR- disease and diet. For a more complete list of studies, please click on ER+/PR-.