Up to 20 percent of invasive breast cancers are classified as triple negative, which refers to the fact that the cancer is estrogen receptor negative (ER-), progesterone receptor negative (ER-), and HER2 negative (HER2-). Triple negative breast cancer is also classified as basal-like breast cancer by some researchers.
Studies concerning diet and triple negative breast cancer usually focus on hormone receptor (ER and PR) status; HER2 status tends to be studied separately. In addition, note that studies concerning ER-/PR- breast cancer without specifying HER2 status normally are relevant to those with triple negative breast cancer. This is because HER2- status is the normal HER2 state (see also our webpages on HER2+ breast cancer if you have ER-/PR-/HER2+ breast cancer).

Foods that reduce risk of triple negative breast cancer

Foods to limit or avoid for triple negative breast cancer

The following foods have been linked specifically to increases in the risk of triple negative breast cancer or its progression:
Fructose has also been shown to induce changes in triple negative breast cancer cells that may increase their aggressiveness, suggesting that patients should avoid concentrated sources such as agave nectar and processed foods sweetened with fructose, including beverages. Exposure to bisphenol A (BPA) has also been shown to increase proliferation of triple negative breast cancer cells.
Cadmium has been shown to promote the growth of triple negative cells. Copper has been shown to contribute to angiogenesis and metastasis of breast cancer, especialy in women with triple negative disease. Copper jewelry and jewelry made from copper alloys, such as red, rose or pink gold, are another potential source of copper exposure. Cigarette smoking is associated with significantly poorer outcomes for triple negative patients.

Supplements for triple negative patients and survivors

There is no supplement or combination of supplements that has been proven to reliably reduce the risk of triple negative breast cancer recurrence in women. When a beneficial micronutrient is administered at low doses by consuming food, it is likely to have subtle chemopreventive effects, whereas when the same micronutrient is administered at a high dose in a supplement, it is more likely to have pharmacological effects, with mostly unknown results. It is best to obtain beneficial compounds by consuming food, if possible. Supplements make sense if medically necessary or to make up for deficiencies that are difficult to correct through diet.
The following supplements generally have been found to be safe and beneficial for triple negative breast cancer patients and survivors:
CoQ10 (if needed for heart health)100 to 400 mg/day
Fish oil (from wild-caught fish)1000 to 2000 mg/day
Vitamin D1000 to 2000 IU/day
One study reported that breast cancer patients with suboptimal levels (under 30 ng/mL) of vitamin D were three times more likely to develop triple negative breast cancer than patients with optimal levels. Low vitamin D appears to increase the aggressiveness of any breast cancer that develops.
Please consult your oncology team for advice concerning your situation and dosages. It might make sense to be tested for deficiency in vitamin D and, if appropriate, plan for follow-up testing to determine whether your reading has reached a desirable level.

Supplements & vitamins to be avoided for triple negative disease

The supplements below have been reported to increase the risk of triple negative or ER-/PR- disease or its progression under some circumstances. That is not to say that most other supplements are safe to take; there are no relevant scientific studies concerning the interactions between most supplements and triple negative breast cancer.
  • Copper supplements, including multivitamins
  • Folic acid supplements, including multivitamins
  • Genistein supplements
  • Resveratrol supplements
  • Sage supplements & sage essential oil
  • Vitamin E supplements, alpha-tocopherol
  • Vitamin K1 or Super K supplements that include vitamin K1

Sources of information provided in this webpage

Below we provide a list of foods and spices that have been shown to be effective in inhibiting triple negative or ER-/PR- cell growth or proliferation. Also included are foods that incorporate significant levels of micronutrients that inhibit triple negative breast cancer. In addition, this webpage lists foods, spices and supplements that appear to be risky because they (or significant incorporated compounds) have been shown to promote triple negative breast cancer development, proliferation, growth or metastasis.
The food lists, which are updated continually as new research becomes available, have been developed based solely on the results of academic studies. Clicking on any of the foods will take you to its webpage, which contains specific information concerning that food's relationship to breast cancer (including its overall ranking), as well as links to supporting studies.

Additional comments

It is important for triple negative breast cancer patients and survivors to 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 on the lists above. See also our article on how to optimize your breast cancer diet for information on what to eat during all stages of treatment and recovery.

Additional triple negative breast cancer articles

Below are links to other articles concerning triple negative breast cancer.
To see all of the news stories and studies concerning triple negative breast cancer, click on the tripleNegative tag in the list of tags directly below.