Up to 15 percent of U.S. invasive breast cancers are classified as lobular, which refers to the fact that the cancer developed in the cells that line the milk-producing glands (the lobules) of the breast. The most common histological type of breast cancer, accounting for approximately 70 percent of cases, is ductal breast cancer, which forms in the milk ducts. Lobular cancer is more likely to be multifocal (more than one tumor per breast), bilateral (diagnosed in both breasts at the same time), and both estrogen receptor-positive and progesterone receptor-positive (ER+/PR+) than ductal breast cancer, and it is also more likely to have a hereditary component.
Please see our articles on lobular breast cancer and LCIS and lobular breast cancer prognosis for information on lobular and LCIS (lobular carcinoma in situ or lobular neoplasia) characteristics and outcomes. We suggest that lobular breast cancer and LCIS patients and survivors also refer to our articles on their individual breast cancer subtypes (e.g., ER+/PR+, HER2+, triple negative).
Foods and supplements that might reduce the risk of lobular breast cancer
There are no specific foods that have been found to be strongly associated with reduced risk of lobular breast cancer. However, studies have reported that women with high consumption of foods (but not supplements) containing beta-carotene or soluble fiber experience reduced risk of lobular breast cancer. In addition, cucurbitacin B, indole-3-carbinol (I3C), marine fatty acids (DHA and EPA), melatonin, pterostilbene, quercetin, and vitamin D all have been shown to have chemopreventive properties with respect to lobular breast cancer in cell or animal studies. Below are foods on our Recommended list that are also very good sources of at least one of these micronutrients:
Please note that supplementation with vitamin A or beta-carotene will not provide the same beneficial effects as consuming high-carotenoid foods. In one study, women with early-stage breast cancer who frequently took supplements containing multiple carotenoids had double the risk of death from breast cancer compared to non-users. However, the same study found no such relationship for beta-carotene or lycopene supplements alone.
Foods, supplements & medications linked to increased lobular breast cancer risk
The following have been found specifically to increase the risk of lobular breast cancer:
- Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) supplements containing the t10,c12-CLA isomer
- Combined HRT — hormone replacement therapy containing both estrogen and progestin
- Levonorgestrel-releasing intrauterine system (IUD)
Foods that affect the risk of ovarian cancer
The foods listed below have been found to increase the risk of ovarian cancer. Lobular breast cancer patients are at heightened risk of ovarian metastases. Although the risk factors for ovarian metastases probably are not identical to those for primary ovarian cancer, it makes sense for women diagnosed with lobular breast cancer to limit their intake of these foods:
- Bread, white
- Cured and salted meats
- Fish contaminated with PCBs
- Milk, including low-fat
- Salted fish
- Salted shrimp paste
- Soybean paste
Foods that affect the risk of gastric cancer
The foods listed below have been found to increase the risk of stomach cancer. Unlike most breast cancer, lobular breast cancer will sometimes metastasize to the digestive tract. Most of these foods have a high salt content, which is consistent with the finding of numerous studies that diets high in salty foods increase the risk for gastric cancer. Again, although the risk factors for gastric metastases probably are not identical to those for primary gastric cancer, it makes sense for women diagnosed with lobular breast cancer to avoid overconsuming these foods and salty foods in general:
- Dried salted mackerel
- Hot peppers
- Pickled herring
- Processed meats
- Salted shrimp paste
- Soybean paste
Lobular breast cancer patients and survivors should eat 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, spices and supplements 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 food and lobular breast cancer. For a more complete list of studies, please click on the tag lobular.