What should hormone receptor positive (ER+/PR+) breast cancer patients and survivors eat?
Hormone receptor positive breast cancer has both estrogen receptor positive (ER+) and progesterone receptor positive (PR+) tumor receptor status. Up to two-thirds of invasive breast cancers are classified as hormone receptor positive, or ER+/PR+. Compounds that regulate ER or PR expression, oppose the production of estrogen in the body (i.e., aromatase inhibitors) or inhibit estrogen binding to estrogen receptors (e.g., tamoxifen) are among those used to treat this type of breast cancer. Tumors with a large number of estrogen receptors are associated with a better prognosis than those with few. Please see our article on ER+/PR+ breast cancer prognosis.
Consumption of a total of at least five vegetables and fruits per day plus regular exercise has been found to be associated with lower risk of recurrence of ER+/PR+ breast cancer. Certain foods and spices have been shown to be especially effective in inhibiting ER+/PR+ cell growth and proliferation and promoting apoptotic cell death. Dietary fiber has also been found to be associated with reduced risk of ER+/PR+ breast cancer. On the other hand, some foods and supplements appear to be especially risky for ER+/PR+ breast cancer patients.
Foods and spices that reduce the risk of ER+/PR+ breast cancer
The foods and spices listed below have either specifically been found to be associated with reduced risk of ER+/PR+ breast cancer or contain meaningful amounts of micronutrients that have been found to reduce the risk of ER+/PR+ breast cancer:
Olive oil and black pepper are included on the list because both have been found to increase the bioavailabilty of beta-carotene from other foods.
Foods and supplements that increase the risk of ER+/PR+ breast cancer
The following foods and supplements can increase the risk of ER+/PR+ breast cancer:
- Astragalus root
- Bacon and other processed meats
- Black tea
- Corn oil
- Folic acid supplements
- Reishi tea
- Safflower oil
- Soybean oil
- Soy protein isolate
- Sunflower oil
- Well-done or fried meat or fish
Use of the heart medication digoxin (digitalis) has been shown to increase the risk of ER+ breast cancer.
Hormone receptor positive 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, spices and supplements on the lists above.
Under the list of tags below are links to recent studies on this topic. For a more complete list of studies, please click on ER+/PR+.