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 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:
Supplements for lobular breast cancer patients and survivors
There is no supplement or combination of supplements that has been shown to reduce the risk of lobular 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.
For example, one study reported that 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.)
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:
Supplement → Approximate dosage
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 by lobular breast cancer patients
Alcohol has been found specifically to increase the risk of lobular breast cancer.
Supplements & medications that should be avoided by lobular breast cancer patients
The following have been found specifically to increase the risk of lobular breast cancer:
It is especially important for women who have already been diagnosed with lobular breast cancer or who have a family history of this type of breast cancer to avoid these.
Long-term statin use was also found to be associated with increased risk of lobular breast cancer in one study, contradicting other reports that statins are linked to reduced risk of breast cancer overall. Another study found that long-term use of calcium-channel blockers (a type of high blood pressure drug) more than doubled the risk of lobular breast cancer in postmenopausal women.
Lobular breast cancer patients and survivors should also follow the dietary and supplement guidance for their combination of HER2, ER and PR receptors.
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:
The following foods have been found to be associated with lower risks of both ovarian cancer and breast cancer:
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:
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.