Cisplatin (Platinol) is a platinum-based chemotherapy drug that is used in combination with other drugs for advanced breast cancer and sometimes for triple negative disease (ER-/PR-/HER2-). Platinum-based drugs, or platins, cause crosslinking of DNA strands, thereby interfering with DNA repair and synthesis, and subsequently inducing apoptosis (programmed cell death) in cancer cells. While there is extensive research on the interaction of diet with chemotherapy drugs such as Adriamycin and Taxol (both used in early-stage disease), little research is available for cisplatin. Therefore, while we are not able to produce a full article devoted to cisplatin, we present a brief summary of the available results to date here.

Overall diet during cisplatin treatment

It is important for breast cancer patients on cisplatin to avoid consuming foods or taking supplements that will lessen the cytotoxic impact of this drug (and any other drugs in the chemotherapy regimen) on cancer cells. Note that compounds that provide relief from chemotherapy side effects might also provide some protection to breast cancer cells. In fact, while various micronutrients found in fruits, vegetables and other foods have been shown to help protect against breast cancer development and metastasis, some micronutrients, especially in concentrated form, could enable breast cancer cells to survive chemotherapy.

The goal should be to eat a healthy diet that meets nutritional needs while avoiding harmful foods that can promote breast cancer. It is more important to avoid unhealthy foods (fast food, junk food, meals consisting mostly of highly refined carbohydrates, unhealthy fats (including most vegetable oils), red meat, and fried food) than to consume cancer-fighting foods. The purpose of food during chemotherapy is to enable patients to feel well enough to continue treatment, not to eliminate side effects that may in fact be associated with successful treatment.

Foods that enhance the effectiveness of cisplatin or safely reduce side effects

The following foods are good sources of compounds that have been shown to increase the anti-cancer effects of cisplatin and/or safely reduce its side effects:

Apples
Artichokes
Arugula
Basil
Bell peppers
Black cumin
Blueberries
Broccoli
Buckwheat
Cabbage
Carrots
Cauliflower
Celery
Cherries
Cherries, sour or tart

Cranberries
Currants, black
Flaxseed oil
Garlic
Ginger
Grapes, red
Green tea
Greens, all types
Horseradish
Hot peppers
Kale
Leeks
Lemons
Lettuce, romaine

Mustard
Onions, all types
Oranges
Parsley
Pomegranates & pomegranate juice
Raspberries
Seaweed, especially brown
Tangerines
Tomatoes
Turnips
Turmeric
Walnuts
Watercress

Fruits and vegetables should be washed thoroughly before cooking or consuming. This includes the exterior of fruits with peels such as lemons.

Foods & supplements that should not be used during cisplatin chemotherapy

The following have been found to interfere with the effectiveness of cisplatin:

Beef
Capers
Caviar
Fish oil supplements
Genistein supplements
Iron supplements (unless medically necessary)
Lamb
Lard

Liver, any type
Multivitamins & antioxidant supplements

Exposure to plastics and food packaging containing bisphenol A (BPA)
Pork
Processed meats
Quercetin supplements
Shellfish

Many women develop abnormally low iron levels during cisplatin chemotherapy which must be treated. However, excess iron is also to be avoided since it has been shown to reduce the effectiveness of cisplatin. Curcumin (found in turmeric) has been shown to be an iron chelator (a compound that removes iron from the body) as well as a copper chelator. Turmeric might also protect the brain from chemotherapy, thereby possibly reducing chemo brain.

Aspirin is the best choice of over-the-counter pain medications (assuming the gastrointestinal side effects can be tolerated) since aspirin has been shown to lower the concentration of cisplatin required to exert its cytotoxic action on tumor cells. On the other hand, the prescription painkiller Celebrex has been shown to reduce the effectiveness of cisplatin.

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.