What to eat to reduce your risk of recurrence of triple-negative and other forms of hormone-negative breast cancer.
So, the doc has scared the wind (or whatever) out of you, told you that your cancer—triple-negative, or some form of hormone-negative—is highly aggressive yet has fewer treatment options than hormone-positive. Been there, done that. Tamoxifen or aromatase inhibitors offer no benefit. What now?
After researching this disease for the three and a half years since my diagnosis, I have learned a great deal about how diet reacts to hormone-negative forms of cancer. Below is the diet that I follow. So far, so good. I am past the magic three-year mark and I feel darn good. Elsewhere in this blog are specific posts that offer research details on each of these dietary choices.
Fruits and vegetables. This is a huge key. Aim for five servings a day. My approach:
• A breakfast smoothie with blueberries (antioxidants), flaxseeds (cancer-fighting fighting fiber)), bananas, black cherry (more antioxidant) juice, and yogurt (bone-building and cancer-fighting calcium). I figure this gives me 2.5 servings of fruits and one serving of calcium.
• Juiced veggies every evening. This includes 3-4 carrots, 1-2 leaves of kale, 1/8 cabbage, 1 bunch parsley, 1 stalk celery, ¼ apple, ¼ lemon. My super-juicing husband uses a Champion juicer, which takes the pulp out and leaves only the juice. This gives me 2- 3 servings of veggies and is heavy on cancer-fighting cruciferous vegetables—kale and cabbage. The lemon, apple, and celery really help the taste.
• Spinach, broccoli, asparagus, green beans, romaine and other dark greens throughout the day as side dishes. I have found that it is true that the more you eat something, the more you will like it. I used to only tolerate broccoli if it came smothered in cheese. Now I eat it raw and unadorned.
I avoid fried foods, use healthy fats such as olive oil instead of butter and cream, and go mainly vegetarian. I use oil and vinegar on my salad, lemon oil on veggies, and olive or flax oil on my whole grain bread. For treats, I have nuts, air-popped popcorn, whole grain crackers, and low-fat cheese.
I limit my processed carbohydrates—sugar, white bread and pasta—and eat 1-2 servings of whole grains a day. Look for the word “whole” on the label. Multigrain breads are not whole grain unless they include whole wheat, rice, oats, or other grains, so watch out for trick labels. A good serving of whole grains will have 3 grams of fiber per serving.
Vitamins and Minerals
I try to get as many of my goodies in my diet, but I find I need some supplements to assure I get everything I need. I take:
• 1000-2000 IU of vitamin D. It would be great to get this through the sun, but I live in Iowa, so that’s not going to happen for a good portion of the year.
• Folic acid—800 mg daily. This is especially important if I have alcohol.
• Calcium—1200 mg. I figure I get at least half of this with yogurt and cheese during the day, so I take 600 mg daily in supplement form. Make sure you take a calcium supplement with magnesium, as this helps calcium enter the system and keeps calcium from causing constipation.
• Omega 3 fatty acids. I take this in the form of fish oil, 450-500 mg per day of combined EPA/DHA.
• A multi-vitamin, to assure I get enough vitamin A, B, C, and E, plus minerals.
I buy organic milk and cheese to avoid the added hormones and antibiotics in conventional dairy products even though my disease was hormone-negative. Why mess with unnatural additives?I buy organic versions of the Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen —a list of fruits and vegetables that are high in pesticides, when I can. I seldom eat meat.
I am 5’9”, so I can have 1500-1800 or so calories a day. I also exercise at least 30 minutes six days a week, so I can occasionally afford a few more calories without gaining weight.
Even though research shows that alcohol is most dangerous for hormone-positive disease, I choose not to take a chance. I have my beloved martini once or twice a week. I have wine, perhaps, on a third day.
I drink decaf tea and coffee, and keep the coffee to a cup a day, as even decaf has caffeine.
Choose your partner well
My husband is a great cook and he has his eye out for my health. He makes my juice every day, finds yummy low-fat recipes, and keeps the fridge full of healthy foods. I am a lucky woman.
For more information on a cancer-fighting diet, check out my book, Surviving Triple-Negative Breast Cancer. You can get a free signed copy just by donating $25 to this site. Click the Donate button on the right to donate through PayPal. You’ll then get an email from me asking how you want your book signed and where you want it sent. Thanks! And hugs.