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.

Alcohol
Bread, white
Cookies, candy and cake
Cornflakes and similar breakfast cereals
Granola
Plantains, fried ripe
Potatoes, white
Red meat, fried
Rice, white
Sugar
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.

Arugula
Beans, dry
Bell peppers
Blackberries
Blueberries
Bok choy
Broccoli & broccoli sprouts
Brussels sprouts
Buckwheat
Butternut squash
Cabbage
Carrots, purple
Cauliflower
Celery & celery hearts
Cherries
Cilantro
Coffee
Collard greens
Cranberries
Flaxseed, organic
Garlic, fresh

Grapes, red
Green tea
Horseradish
Hot peppers
Kale
Lettuce, romaine
Mustard
Mustard greens
Onions, all types
Parsley
Pomegranates & pomegranate juice
Pumpkins
Raspberries
Saffron
Seaweed, brown
Sweet potatoes, purple
Turmeric
Turnip greens
Turnips
Watercress
Zucchini

Additional comments

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-.