Triple-negative breast cancer is not as well known as other types of breast cancer, but it is just as serious. This type of cancer is difficult to treat because it does not respond to hormone therapy or targeted therapy drugs. Diet is a key factor that can play a role in your health, and certain foods may help prevent and even fight triple-negative breast cancer.
Did You Know You Can Use Your Ancestry Test DNA Data To Learn About Your Breast Cancer Risk?
Triple Negative Breast Cancer: An Overview
Estrogen and progesterone are important hormones for the female reproductive system.
Certain cells have receptors (proteins) to which these hormones bind to fuel them.
Breast cancer cells with estrogen and progesterone receptors are ER+ and PR+ breast cancer, respectively.
Her2 is another protein that acts as a growth factor, and breast cancer cells with receptors for this protein is called Her2+ breast cancer.
Triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) is a type of breast cancer that does not have receptors for the hormones estrogen, progesterone or the Her 2 protein.
Hence, hormonal treatments targeting such receptors are ineffective against TNBC.
How Does Your Diet Affect Breast Cancer Risk?
Your diet plays a big role in your breast cancer risk.
Consuming processed meats and high-fat dairy can increase your risk while eating plenty of fruits and vegetables can decrease it.
Alcohol consumption is also a factor. Even moderate drinking can increase your risk by 10%.
Maintaining a healthy weight is important, as well. Obesity increases your risk of developing breast cancer, especially after menopause.
Triple-negative Breast Cancer And Diet
According to the American Cancer Society, some foods help boost overall health and reduce the risk of several types of cancers.
- Variety of vegetables, especially dark green leafy vegetables
- Legumes like beans and peas
- Whole fruits of different colors
- Whole grains
Research studies report a link between the Western diet (one that is high in processed foods and added sugars) and an increased risk for breast cancer.
Additionally, Western diet-induced obesity can further increase the risk.
A 2021 study reported that obesity is associated with shorter survival among TNBC patients.
A recent study published in April 2022 analyzed the impact of diet on TNBC chemotherapy response and the risk for chemotherapy-induced heart damage.
The study reported that regardless of the dietary pattern, a high-fat diet increased TNBC growth.
Further, mice fed with the western diet showed cancer metastasis to the lung, and this was not seen in mice fed with the Mediterranean diet.
The former also shower poor cardiac function compared to the latter, with increased fibrosis.
Triple-negative Breast Cancer Diet: What Foods To Eat
Certain food groups help with a better outcome for TNBC treatment, as well as reduce the risk for TNBC.
Whole grains, vegetables, fruits, legumes
Phytochemical compounds have anticancer properties
Certain phytochemicals like folate, curcumin, resveratrol, epigallocatechin, and sulforaphane can help manage TNBC.
Recommended foods in this group include broccoli, kale, celery, green tea, turmeric, carrot, spinach, and pears.
According to findings presented at American Association for Cancer Research conference 2013, omega-3 fatty acids can slow down TNBC.
Foods rich in omega-3 fats include salmon, chia seeds, walnuts, and cod liver oil.
Triple-negative Breast Cancer Diet: What Foods To Avoid
Limiting or avoiding the following food items/groups can help with slowing down the progression of TNBC, increase the likelihood of favorably responding to treatments, and reduce the overall risk for TNBC.
- Processed meat
- Red meat
- Carbonated beverages
- Sugar-sweetened beverages
- High-fructose corn syrup
Other Dietary Tips for TNBC
- Ensure that all your meals contain a generous serving of vegetables or fruits
- Swap meat with tofu and add green veggies and legumes to stir-fries
- Instead of choosing bread and pasta made of refined white flour, go for the ones made with whole grains
- Replace sugar-sweetened beverages with fresh fruits
- Snack on nuts instead of crisps and chips
- Limit alcohol to 1-2 drinks per week
Summary: Triple-negative Breast Cancer Diet
TNBC is one of the toughest types of breast cancer to treat since the cancer cells do not have any hormone receptors.
Diet plays a major role in influencing cancer risk, cancer progression, treatment outcome, and survival.
A diet high in processed foods, sugar, and fats has been linked to an increased risk for TNBC and poor chemotherapy outcomes.
A diet rich in whole grains, phytochemicals, omega-3 fats, fruits, and vegetables can help reduce the risk of all types of cancer and can further help with slowing down cancer progression.