Up to two-thirds of invasive breast cancers are classified as hormone receptor positive, with both estrogen receptor positive and progesterone receptor positive tumor receptor status (ER+/PR+). These tumors are also HER2/neu overexpressing (HER2+) or not (HER2-). 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. Please see also our article on ER+/PR+ breast cancer prognosis.
Consumption of at least five vegetables/fruits per day plus regular exercise has been found to be associated with lower risk of metastasis 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. 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 been found to reduce the risk of ER+/PR+ breast cancer. It is important to obtain these nutrients by consuming food rather than supplements.Olive oil and black pepper have both been found to increase the bioavailabilty of beta-carotene from other foods.
Supplements for ER+/PR+ patients and survivors
There is no supplement or combination of supplements that has been proven to reduce the risk of ER+/PR+ breast cancer recurrence. Attempting to take advantage of the apparent treatment effects of micronutrients and other dietary components by using supplements carries the risk of adverse and paradoxical effects, including promoting breast cancer growth and metastasis.
What is known is that 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 high doses, it is more likely to have pharmacological effects, with mostly unknown results. It is best to obtain beneficial compounds by consuming food, if possible. The role of supplements is to make up for deficiencies that are difficult to correct through diet.
The following supplements generally been found to be safe and beneficial for ER+/PR+ patients and survivors:
|CoQ10 (if needed for heart health)||100 to 400 mg/day|
|Fish oil||1000 to 2000 mg/day|
|Vitamin D||1000 to 2000 IU/day|
Please consult your oncology team for advice concerning your situation and dosages. It might make sense to de tested for deficiency in vitamin D and plan for follow up to determine if your reading has reached a desirable level.
Foods to limit or avoid for ER+/PR+ breast cancer
The following foods have been linked specifically to increased risk of ER+/PR+ breast cancer or its recurrence:
Supplements, vitamins & other to avoid for ER+/PR+ breast cancer
The supplements and other compounds below have been shown to promote ER+/PR+ breast cancer development or its recurrence. 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 ER+/PR+ breast cancer.
It is important for hormone receptor positive breast cancer patients and survivors to eat a wide variety of the foods from our recommended 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.