- Question from KBlachley: Are there any special dietary recommendations for someone with this type of cancer to follow, with particular attention to the use of soy and any other nutritional supplements?
Kathy D. Miller, M.D.
You ask an important question, and one that we have new information to guide our recommendations. We have recently got the first results of the Women's Intervention Nutrition Study (the WINS study). That study randomized women who had completed chemotherapy to a nutrition intervention aimed at encouraging them to follow a diet lower in saturated fats and higher in whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, or to a standard follow-up alone.
What we learned is that the women who followed the low-fat diet had a lower risk of recurrence of their breast cancer. This diet was not based on specific supplements or eating or avoiding specific foods; it was based on shifting the balance to making healthier choices more regularly. This is one thing that we all can control, even though it can be difficult, especially around the holidays. Overall this is a very healthy diet that should also decrease the risk of heart disease and other long-term health problems, and we now know it reduces the risk of recurrence of breast cancers as well.
I will give you two separate answers depending on what type of soy you are asking about. Soy food products—tofu or soy milk—have very few plant estrogens and the plant estrogens have very little, if any, effect in the body. For most women, it is virtually impossible to eat enough soy foods to have any impact. However, I do worry about soybean supplements or extracts that you might buy in a healthfood store. Those are not regulated, and there is no way to know how much of the plant estrogens those products might contain.
- Jennifer Armstrong, M.D. I think that's a great distinction, and a very important one that's often under-recognized.
On Wednesday, November 19, 2005, our Ask-the-Expert Online Conference was called Hormone-Receptor-Negative Breast Cancer. Kathy D. Miller, M.D., Marisa Weiss, M.D., and moderator Jennifer Armstrong, M.D. answered your questions about a wide range of issues related to hormone-receptor-negative breast cancer.
The materials presented in these conferences do not necessarily reflect the views of Breastcancer.org. A qualified healthcare professional should be consulted before using any therapeutic product or regimen discussed. All readers should verify all information and data before employing any therapies described here.
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