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May 4, 2012 01:46 PM

Breast cancer diet recommendations?

My sister was recently diagnosed with breast cancer. Her diet tends to be a little sketchy, and I'm trying to help her move to a diet more conducive to recovery. The first step was getting her off the diet sodas, sugar, red meat, and processed stuff. Now I'm looking for solid resources for appropriate diet recommendations. I don't know that I can get her to go veg, -- organic whole foods may be the best I can do. Can anyone recommend any good books or websites for some solid information?

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  1. I have been reading up on food and cancer after seeing a report on the news last week about the new American Cancer Society guidelines. Here are a few sites that I have bookmarked:

    The new American Cancer Society guidelines

    Recent study found that a part-time low carb diet can help prevent breast cancer

    7 Replies
    1. re: EM23

      Thanks, EM. I will be checking these all out.

      1. re: maxie

        You are welcome Maxie and best wishes for your sister's recovery.

      2. re: EM23

        The American Cancer Society resources are great--I worked there for years, and the publications have solid, scientific-based information, including ideas if a pt. is receiving chemo and/or radiation. Best wishes to you and your sister--my sis is over 20 yrs. post-breast-cancer treatment, a great inspiration. BTW, are you aware of The Sister Study? Great folks doing high-tech study and follow-up of sibs who have sisters who have/had breast ca.--I've been on board with them for years, and respect their work tremendously. Best wishes to you both.

        1. re: pine time

          Thanks for the info. The Sister Study looks interesting, though they are now only enrolling sisters who both have breast cancer. Sounds like they are doing good work.

          1. re: maxie

            maxie, may I ask, how is your sister doing? Am hoping for improvement! I don't see a way to e-mail you, so sorry to ask if it's inappropriate.

            1. re: Val

              It is going slowly. She is on her third surgery, and struggling with infection. once she clears up, she starts chemo. Unfortunately she has not been on board with dietary changes. Still hoping for the best.

              1. re: maxie

                (((((maxie)))))...hang in there! I have a co-worker also who was resistant to any dietary changes, (different kind of cancer) and every situation is different, I know thinking of you and your sister...

      3. What a great sister you are.

        "Organic whole foods" isn't just a second-best! Sounds like it's a vast improvement and a great path for her. :) IMHO, for fighting any long-term illness I wouldn't recommend vegetarianism unless it's absolutely imperative medically, since things like bone broth are so restorative -- plus then you have the additional problem of meat substitutes being full of soy which for breast cancer seems like it would be good to avoid. Obviously any meat or dairy with hormones added is right out, but I wouldn't hesitate to include both of those things if they're organic or non-hormone-treated (I say "or" because many smaller producers can't afford organic certification even though they use organic practices, or can't be certified organic if they, say, occasionally use antibiotics to treat a sick animal -- all that to say, don't be tied to an organic label).

        Best wishes to your sister and to you as you support her!

        5 Replies
        1. re: LauraGrace

          Thanks LauraGrace. I completely forgot about bone broth. I think if I can get her on organic whole foods, she will be much better off. Much tastier, too!

          1. re: maxie

            Sally Fallon suggests adding apple cider vinegar to bones making stock to draw out more minerals. You can even add egg shells and vinegar to add calcium to the broth. When I use the crock pot for this (24 hours)- the egg shells and bones get very soft and the stock is jelly when refrigerated. I bet this would be good for your sister.

            1. re: maxie

              My hubby has been going through chemo for months...i've made lots of bone broth. My Korean friend has been bringing it to us, too. SHe also suggested soups made with doenjiang (fermented soybean paste) and albalone porridge, since albalone is supposed to be very nutritious. Seaweed soup, too , if she likes it.

              I'd also suggest that she try to get lots of protein in her diet. Her body will need it to recover after therapies. Try out a few different brands of protein shakes to see what she likes, for when she just doesn't feel like eating solid foods. We ended up getting some from Costco that had the highest amount of protein per serving.

              1. re: gimlis1mum

                +1 on the protein.. my father had chemo years ago, right after coming off the atkins (super high protein) diet. they told him to expect to loose all his hair, along with all the usual side effects. He might have gotten a bit more tired than usual (he was about 75 at the time), but other than that he sailed through! He lost a little hair on his arms of all places - that was it!

                that being said, I've heard wonderful things about going completely raw food as well....

                1. re: rmarisco

                  I think raw may pose a risk to compromised immunity during cancer treatment, though?

                  But a big thumbs up for protein; you can't repair damaged tissues without it.

          2. ((((maxie)))) you are a wonderful sister ...and I hope that your sister beats this right out of her! Cancer runs in my family, my brother died of colon cancer 2 years ago, which is what our dad died of too. I'm going to offer you this video of how to slow cancer...this website by Dr. Micheael Greger offers a lot of research and data ... the substance sulforaphane in broccoli seems significant also in fighting particularly breast cancer (discussed in a different video) See what you think and I hope this can be of some small guidance or help...I agree with others who've said get the growth hormones OUT OUT OUT of her and OUR diets...


            one more on lignans' beneficial effect for surviving breast cancer:

            1 Reply
            1. re: Val

              Thanks, Val. I'll take a look at these. It sounds like exactly what I'm looking for.

            2. If she likes the idea, juicing might also be a nice thing to explore. Especially if you are trying to get her to feel happy about cutting down on the diet sodas, processed foods and whatnot. Juices (even juices made mostly with vegetables) can be quite sweet and delicious. And if she has to have chemo (I didn't, so I'm speculating here), a little ginger in her juice might help her to feel less ill, as well? And if getting a juicer, using it and keeping it clean is more than you think she's ready to sign up for right now, there are lots of pretty-good alternatives: odwalla? bolthouse (the carrot people)? your neighbourhood juice bar, if you are lucky enough to have one nearby?

              1 Reply
              1. re: linengirl

                Easier than juicing, we're going to try variations of green smoothies to balance out the sugars with fiber. That way she can add nuts or protein powder if necessary. The addition of ginger is a great idea. I need to check in her neighborhood for juicing places. They might be a refreshing treat.

              2. I looked at the various websites recommended and found the best recommendations on this site:

                I have not personally had cancer, but I have helped with 3 family members and a friend deal with their treatments. One thing I learned is that each one reacts differently and the foods they can tolerate are different. The worst was my mother who the last month or two of her chemo treatment could only tolerate fresh boiled chicken (ie bought that day, could not be frozen or cooked the day before), fresh piece of london broil, baked potato, hard boiled egg and Boost. If we got 1000 calories in her a day we were happy. She is not normally a picky eater which actually made it harder since she LIKES her fruit & vegetables. She also found she could not tolerate the taste of Ensure and we were recommended Boost which she could tolerate.

                Remember their tastebuds change and food that they loved before may taste awful. Chemo can make some foods taste metallic. They may be nauseous, chemo kills young cells including the ones that line the stomach so they cannot tolerate some foods, etc. They can get mouth sores, etc. So just go with the flow and expect changes with their diet (which can change day to day depending upon how they feel and the point they are in the chemo cycle) and don't get upset when they cannot eat the optimal diet.

                I also second the recommendation that she get plenty of protein. This is especially crucial after surgery.

                BTW be careful with juicing, especially fruit juice if you have gout in your family. The high concentrations of sugars in fruit juice and chemo can cause gout attacks. Plus this will give her alot of acidic foods at once which I found with my family they could not tolerate. If she can tolerate juicing then fine but be aware it may be a problem for some people. I cannot say it enough, be flexible and go with the flow.

                My best hopes for her being one of the lucky ones that doesn't have food issues during her treatment.

                4 Replies
                1. re: kosherGlutenFree

                  This is a great link. Thank you! Also -- though she hasn't had it, there is gout in the family, so I'm now aware of the need for backing off of juicing. We don't yet know for sure what her complete treatment will consist of -- this helps me be prepared for different scenarios as well as the possibility we will need to rethink things.

                  1. re: maxie

                    Sorry to hear you also have gout in your family. I was so glad to see you were aware of the fiber issue. My mother's against juicing since it eliminates the fiber which is so important and can give you too much of other things if you are not careful. We just eat LOTS of fruits & vegetables (like 9+ servings a day is our goal).

                    Something my family seems to like is to eat small meals throughout the day. It seems to be easier on the stomach. Things like small baggies of nuts, dried fruit are handy when you are not home and my sister always seems to have a bottle of water in her hand. She likes a little lemon in it so always has that on hand. She also uses True Lemon (dried lemon flavor--it isn't full of junk and is handy when you run out of lemon or when you are traveling), they also make True Lime and True Orange. I prefer the lemon with lime second best. Drinking helps get the chemo out of your system faster but you have to make it easy to drink. Based on what I have seen if it is cold, with a little flavor and always easy to sip they will drink more.

                    1. re: kosherGlutenFree

                      Since she switching from soda to water, the additions may be just the ticket. Mint and cucumber water may be a good thing too. Don't know why I'm not drinking that at home. So many options here!

                      1. re: maxie

                        Yes to mint and cucumber water and citrus waters -- a friend of mine likes fruit water of all kinds -- strawberries and lime slices floating in icy-cold water is pretty delicious. Sparkling water hits the spot for my soda cravings and is a good digestif and stomach-settler too.