Breast Cancer diet

What helps it?

•  Vitamin C, in its role as an antioxidant, helps reduce the formation of free radicals that inflict the kind of damage that could turn a normal breast cell into a renegade. For this reason, if you have a family risk for breast cancer, you should supplement your diet with vitamin C. If you have already developed a breast cancer and are in (or have been in) treatment for it, you will want to supplement with vitamin C to an even greater degree to help heal and repair the damage caused by both surgical treatment and postoperative X-ray therapy and chemotherapy.
Breast Cancer diet Recommendation: Before you proceed, read the Section we listing for vitamin C. Although it comes in tablet or capsule form, we recommend you purchase your vitamin C in the crystalline (powdered) form, because you can more easily adjust your dose and it is not as hard on your stomach at higher doses. Begin with 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of the crystalline powder (mixed in a citrus beverage) once daily for an intake of 1000 mg to 2000 mg per day. Remain at this dose for several days before increasing. Now take the same dose twice daily for several days. At this point, you will be taking 2000 mg to 4000 mg (or 2 to 4 grams) per day. A daily intake of 4 to 8 grams is sufficient for most people to prevent the formation of free radicals. Larger people (and most adult men) may need to be at the higher end of that range, so begin to slowly increase the amount you take at each dose until you reach a total of 8 grams. If you are currently recovering from breast cancer surgery and postoperative treatment, you will need a little more. Continue to increase your daily dose to about 12 grams (that's 1 teaspoon taken 3 times a day).

•  Vitamin D appears to be a factor in improved survival from breast cancer, although the reasons for this effect remain unclear. The vitamin does seem to inhibit the growth of cancer cells in the laboratory, and this may be a part of why it helps. Recommendation: Take 400 IU to 600 IU per day. Warning: Vitamin D is a stored vitamin, which means that it can build up to toxic levels if you take too much. Refer to the Section we listing for vitamin D to reacquaint yourself with the possible side effects.

•  Vitamin E appears to reduce your risk of developing precancerous breast lumps (those that in time can often become cancers). It also aids in hormone production and immune function. Women with breast cancer often have a zinc deficiency. Recommendation: Begin with 100 IU vitamin E (as d-alpha-tocopherol succinate) daily. Remain at that dose for 2 weeks. Check your blood pressure to be certain you are not one of the people for whom vitamin E causes a blood pressure rise. If your blood pressure remains in the normal range, increase your daily dose to 200 IU for 1 week, then 400 IU, then finally 800 IU per day. Between each increase in dose, check your blood pressure again to be sure all is well. Do not increase to a higher dose if your average blood pressure rises above 140/90.

• Breast Cancer dietSelenium is a powerful free radical scavenger that assists vitamin E in its antioxidant work to reduce cancer risk. Taking the two nutrients together will allow you to reduce the amount of vitamin E required to do the job, which may be especially important if you cannot tolerate an increase in vitamin E because of blood pressure consequences. Recommendation: Take 140 micrograms of selenium along with 100 IU to 200 IU vitamin E once daily. You may increase this dose to twice daily if your blood pressure remains normal.

• Essential fats. The relationship between fat and breast cancer development is a confusing one, so let us try to clarify it. Some studies suggest that dietary fat increases risk for late-life breast cancers, and others find no significant association. The confusion in part arises because all fats are not created equal; some kinds of fat are "good" because of their importance for maintaining a healthy immune system, while others cause some trouble. (See the discussion of the fats that worsen risk of breast cancer under the heading "What makes it worse?") And even a "good" fat, heated to the high temperatures needed for frying, can become a "bad" fat, because the heating alters the structure of the fat molecule, making it unusable to the body.

Another factor that makes the research concerning fat intake and breast cancer risk difficult is that diets high in fat tend to also be high in many other breast cancer-promoting culprits, such as sugar and total number of calories.

The essential fatty acids that lead to the production of "good" eicosinoids (see discussion, Section we, pages 24-27) are crucial to reducing your risk of breast (and other) cancer and improving response to X-ray therapy and chemotherapy in people under treatment for cancer. Dietary sources of unheated linoleic acid (GLA) and fish oils (EPA) in the proper proportions will ensure that you will make more of the "good" kind of eicosinoid and keep your immune system strong.

Recommendation: Avoid deep-frying food in any kind of oil. Begin with a solid macronutrient framework (see the discussion of macronutrients, Section 1, page 23), and to that sound base add 240 mg of gamma-linoleic acid to 960 mg of EPA fish oil—a ratio of 1:4 (GLA:EPA) 2 to 6 times daily. The EicoPro essential fatty acid product manufactured by Eicotec, Inc. of Marblehead, Massachusetts, contains ultrapure sources of linoleic acid and fish oils already combined in the proper ratio. If you cannot get that product, you can purchase linoleic acid in a product called evening primrose oil at most health and nutrition stores, and EPA fish oil as well. Because it is not as pure a form, the milligram dosing will be different. You can make a reasonable substitute by combining evening primrose oil capsules with fish oil capsules plus vitamin E. Take 500 mg of evening primrose oil (a source of linoleic acid in capsule form), plus 1000 mg EPA fish oil, plus 200 IU vitamin E 1 to 3 times a day. (Warning to diabetics: EPA fish oil can cause blood sugar fluctuations in some diabetics. Carefully monitor your blood sugar if you use this supplemental oil and discontinue its use if your blood sugar becomes difficult to control.) Another good dietary source of essential fats is cold-pressed virgin or extra-virgin olive oil or canola oil. We would recommend that you use this oil when cooking and that you lightly saute foods, never deep-fry them.

• Fiber may contribute to lowering your risk of developing breast cancer by binding to the female hormone estrogen in the intestine and allowing it to be removed from the body, thus lowering your estrogen levels somewhat. Since estrogen stimulates growth of breast cancers, the modest reduction in estrogen that fiber provides may be important if you have a family risk for cancer. This reduction of estrogen is especially important, however, if you currently are a breast cancer survivor. Recommendation: The cornerstone of increasing your fiber intake should be to concentrate your efforts on eating more high-fiber fruits and vegetables, such as the green leafies, broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus, and green beans. And fewer of the starchier ones, such as potatoes, refined flours and meals, and the breads and pastries made from them. Instead, choose whole grains, rice, oats, and legumes. To further increase your fiber intake, you may want to add a commercial vegetable fiber bulking product (such as Konsyl, Metamucil, or Citrucel), beginning with a small dose of V2 teaspoon in fruit juice or an artificially sweetened, fruitflavored beverage each night. Slowly increase your dose to 1 teaspoon nightly, then morning and night, then 2 teaspoons morning and night, until you reach a combined fiber (food fiber plus commercial fiber) intake of at least 40 to 50 grams per day. We caution you to proceed slowly with your incremental increases. Allow yourself to become accustomed to each new level before moving on. Don't try to do it all in one week or you will suffer from bloating, stomach cramping, and gas from the rapid change in fiber level and wonder why you ever thought you wanted to increase your fiber intake.

• Beta-carotene, when taken with vitamin A, has been shown to have a positive effect on breast cancer. In animal studies, vitamin A has been shown to slow the spread of breast cancer to other parts of the body. In a study of women with breast cancer undergoing chemotherapy, women with higher blood levels of vitamin A responded twice as well to the therapy as did women with lower levels. There are two possible reasons for this result: Vitamin A may have helped protect the women for the drugs' toxicity, or it may have interacted with the drugs in a way that increased their effectiveness. Although studies using beta-carotene alone have shown that it is not effective in treating breast cancer, when paired with vitamin A, it seems to fight the good fight. Recommendation: You may already have increased your intake of green and yellow vegetable sources for the higher fiber content they contain, and as a consequence you will already be eating a diet higher in beta-carotene. If you cannot eat these foods, you may want to add beta-carotene in a dose of 10,000 and 25,000 IU per day to make up the dietary lack. Also supplement with 50,000 IU vitamin A daily.

• In areas of low iodine intake, breast cancers and precancerous breast lumps occur more frequently. Supplementing the diet with iodine may help decrease this risk. Recommendation: Use iodized table salt in cooking to prevent deficiency.

•  Two nutritional regimens from the work of Dr. Linus Pauling appear to improve survival of breast cancer:

(1) Vitamin C 12 grams per day, niacinamide 1.5 to 3 grams per day, pyridoxine 250 mg per day, B-complex (suggested dose 100 mg per day), vitamin E 800 IU per day, beta-carotene 30,000 IU per day, selenium 2 at 500 micrograms per day, plus at least the RDA for all other vitamins and minerals. This regimen improved the survival time of breast cancer patients from an average of 5.7 months to 122 months.

(2) To a basic diet of reduced red meat, increased green vegetables, and no sugar, coffee, cocoa, or milk products, add a daily dose of: B-complex 50 mg, niacinamide 1.5 to 3 grams, vitamin A 25,000 to 50,000 IU, vitamin C at least 12 grams, vitamin E 800 IU, magnesium 500 mg, selenium 4 to 500 micrograms, zinc 30 to 50 mg, beta-carotene 30,000 to 60,000 IU per day. On follow-up checks done at 5 years from onset of this regimen, 4 of 6 patients were still alive.

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