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What you eat may lessen your chances of estrogen-positive breast cancer

If you are concerned with the possibility of estrogen-positive breast cancer, you might be considering a change in the way you plan your meals. You may be wondering what foods may be recommended in the fight against breast cancer.

“Your diet has a quite an impact on the way the body works, including the onset of cancers,” said Geisinger registered dietician nutritionist Susan Generose. “If you are concerned about the possibility of have estrogen-positive breast cancer, changing your diet now can help in the prevention of breast cancer. There are some foods that have cancer-fighting properties, and there are some foods that have cancer-causing properties. If you focus on good foods and cut bad foods, you can lessen your chances of developing estrogen-positive breast cancer.” 

There is some controversy surrounding foods containing estrogen-like compounds and whether they contribute to estrogen-positive breast cancer. Foods like soy, red meats and dairy all have estrogen and estrogen-like chemicals in them, but more research is needed to say whether they are contributors to estrogen-positive cancers.

What to eat:

Cruciferous vegetables
The cruciferous family of vegetables is very high in vitamins, nutrients and cancer-fighting compounds. The family consists of vegetables such as arugula, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and bok choy. Cruciferous vegetables can promote the healthy metabolism of estrogen, which can help slow the growth of cancers due to estrogen.

Green tea
Green tea has many proven health benefits dating back thousands of years. Research shows green tea can improve blood flow and lower cholesterol. It may also help prevent high blood pressure and congestive heart failure.

One of the most promising benefits of green tea is that it contains chemicals called catechins, which may slow or prevent cancer cell growth in many parts of the body, including the breast.

A high-fiber diet can help prevent cancer by trapping estrogen in the digestive system and flushing it out. Since fiber can also make you feel full after eating, it can also prevent weight gain, which is a contributing factor to cancer growth.

“One great source of fiber and other cancer-fighting benefit is flaxseed,” said Generose. “Two tablespoons of flaxseed provide one-fourth of your recommended daily allowance of fiber, and it also helps remove estrogen and reduce breast density.”

What to avoid:

“Avoiding fatty foods is one way to help manage weight, overall health and maybe even breast cancer,” said Generose. “In the body, fat produces estrogen. That’s why being overweight can be a contributing factor to breast cancer. Decreasing your intake of fatty foods and losing weight can both be ways to decrease estrogen levels in your body.”

In small or moderate quantities, alcohol, namely red wine, does have some health benefits, such as lowering stress, lowering the risk of heart disease and reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes. In large quantities, however, they are directly linked to breast cancer (and other cancers, too). Decreasing your intake of alcohol may reduce the risk of estrogen-positive breast cancer and make a difference in your health.

Red meat
In all meal plans, it’s recommended that you watch your intake of red meat and processed meat. In 2015, the World Health Organization actually registered processed meat as a carcinogen. This is likely because of its cholesterol content, which can contribute to cancer.

You don’t need to swear off all red meat for good, but reducing your intake can have positive effects on your health.

If you have already been diagnosed with estrogen-positive breast cancer and have questions about the food you eat during treatment, ask your primary care physician or oncologist to refer you to a registered dietitian nutritionist, an expert in the field of food.

Susan Generose is a registered dietician nutritionist and certified diabetes educator at Geisinger Wyoming Valley Medical Center in Wilkes-Barre. For more information, please visit


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