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Table of Contents > Articles > Nutrition Guidelines To Complement ...
Nutrition Guidelines To Complement Breast Cancer Treatments

Each year more than 185,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer. In other words, approximately one woman in 10 will develop breast cancer in her lifetime. While the cause of breast cancer remains unknown, monthly breast self-examinations and annual visits to a gynecologist play a large role in early detection—in fact, women have been able to detect 90 percent of breast cancer occurrences through breast self-examinations. Treating breast cancer requires a comprehensive plan, including everything from surgery and drug therapies to social support groups. As part of this, the following nutritional guidelines can support cancer treatments, help to prevent cancer recurrence, and reduce the side effects of cancer medications.

  • Eliminate non-organic poultry, dairy, and red meat. Non-organic foods may contain residues from pesticides that can increase the strength or activity of hormones in the body. Some studies have shown that increased hormone levels may increase the risk of breast cancer.
  • Eat more cruciferous vegetables (such as broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, and turnips). These improve the ability of your cells to provide energy to your body.
  • Increase your intake of high-fiber foods such as fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grain breads, rice, and cereals. Fiber helps your body to eliminate toxins.
  • Limit the amount of sugar, white flour, refined foods, coffee, tea, chocolate, and colas in your diet. Excess amounts of these are unhealthy, and a healthy diet is an important part of cancer prevention.
  • Add foods to your diet that support liver function, such as artichokes, beets, carrots, yams, onions, green leafy vegetables, lemons, and apples.
  • Consider taking garlic supplements—studies have shown that garlic may reduce the risk of cancer. Note: garlic should not be consumed at the same time as anticoagulants nor in the 2 to 3 weeks prior to scheduled surgery. Recommended dose is 600 to 900 mg a day of enteric-coated odorless garlic extract. Look for a product that has been standardized to contain 1.0 to 1.4 percent alliin.
  • Drink green tea. Some researchers believe that the antioxidants in green tea may reduce the risk of breast cancer. A recommended dose for general health is 2 to 3 cups a day (decaffeinated) or 300 to 400 mg in capsule form (look for a product that has been standardized to contain 80 percent total polyphenols and 55 percent epigallocatechin).
  • Take coenzyme Q10 (120 mg three times a day) and/or bromelain (500 mg twice a day, between meals). Researchers believe both may have anti-tumor properties.
  • Vitamin A (25,000 IU a day), vitamin E (800 IU a day), and vitamin C (3 to 6 grams per day) may help to decrease the side effects of radiation and chemotherapy. Vitamins C and E are also powerful antioxidants.
  • Melatonin (10 to 50 mg a day) appears to inhibit cancer growth. In Europe, many people who have cancer include this nutrient in their complete cancer treatment program.


Brown MD. Green tea (Camellia sinensis) extract and its possible role in the prevention of cancer. Altern Med Rev. 1999;4(5):360-370.

Bushman JL. Green tea and cancer in humans: a review of the literature. Nutr Cancer. 1998;31(3):151-159.

Integrative Medicine Access: Professional Reference to Conditions, Herbs & Supplements. Newton, Mass: Integrative Medicine Communications; 2000.

You WC, Zhang L, Gail MH, et al. Helicobacter pylori infection, garlic intake and precancerous lesions in a Chinese population at low risk of gastric cancer. Int J Epidemiol. 1998;27(6):941-944.

Review Date: May 2000
Reviewed By: Integrative Medicine editorial

Copyright © 2004 A.D.A.M., Inc

The publisher does not accept any responsibility for the accuracy of the information or the consequences arising from the application, use, or misuse of any of the information contained herein, including any injury and/or damage to any person or property as a matter of product liability, negligence, or otherwise. No warranty, expressed or implied, is made in regard to the contents of this material. No claims or endorsements are made for any drugs or compounds currently marketed or in investigative use. This material is not intended as a guide to self-medication. The reader is advised to discuss the information provided here with a doctor, pharmacist, nurse, or other authorized healthcare practitioner and to check product information (including package inserts) regarding dosage, precautions, warnings, interactions, and contraindications before administering any drug, herb, or supplement discussed herein.

Breast Cancer
Green Tea
Coenzyme Q10
Vitamin A (Retinol)
Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid)
Vitamin E
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