What Does My Diet have to do With My Triple Negative Breast Cancer?

What Does My Diet have to do With My Triple Negative Breast Cancer?

Okay, so you just heard the words, “You’ve got breast cancer.”

And to make matters worse, you understand from your doctor that it’s triple negative, which is a tougher type of breast cancer. In the fog that often happens to people after being told they have cancer, you don’t remember what else your doctor said, but now you want to know more. After a little digging, you discover that triple negative breast cancer (TNBC) is one of the rarer types of cancers, affecting only about 15% of breast cancer patients. You also discover that your treatment options are limited, and hormone therapies do not work. The silver lining in this sea of bad news is that advancements in the treatment of cancer are being made every day, and you still have the ability to take affect your health by eating right and being physically active.

Researchers have been finding that they can turn on hormone receptors making hormone therapies effective, so the TNBC cell lines in studies like these become sensitive to chemotherapy like tamoxifen. Researchers have also been finding that dietary compounds like the ones found in green tea, cruciferous veggies (veggies related to the cabbage/mustard family such as collard greens, broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, arugula and others), grapes, and blueberries can kill cancer cells, leaving normal cells unaffected in cancer cell lines and mice. As recently as March of this year, a rat study by Chhanda Bose and colleagues found that sulforaphane (SFN), a main compound from cruciferous vegetables was able to make doxorubicin (DOX), a chemotherapy drug used to treat breast cancer (commonly called the red devil), more effective.  Tumor growth decreased and less DOX was required to treat the tumor when the cruciferous veggie compound was added to the treatments. Another lab group published a paper in 2015, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26360370 which showed that exercise and tea intake were associated with improved survival among women with TNBC.

We know vegetables of the cabbage/mustard family may not be the most appealing thing to eat, but lots of research done in mice and rats has shown them to be anti-cancerous. In addition to the potential anti-cancerous benefits, healthy diets and lifestyles are known to help combat obesity, which is a primary risk factor for many diseases including cardiovascular disease and breast cancer development. Personally, I’ve always loved broccoli and because of my research, I’m always sure to tell my friends and family to eat their fair share! You have more control than you might think to affect and take control of your health, with the right foods and physical activity, being able to help you win the fight against cancer!

What Does My Diet have to do With My Triple Negative Breast Cancer?

Kendra J. Royston

Kendra is a graduate student at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, the Gulf States Young Breast Cancer Survivor Network partner behind SurviveAL, and is studying ways to treat and prevent breast cancer through the use of dietary phytochemicals. She is also a trainee in the Susan G. Komen Graduate Training in Disparities Research program.

Alabama's Young Breast Cancer Survivor Network

Young women with breast cancer face unique issues. And in the South, there are more young women overall facing breast cancer. In Alabama, young African-American women are significantly more likely to suffer from breast cancer.

That is why SurviveAL is here. Part of the Gulf States Young Breast Cancer Survivor Network, SurviveAL's mission is to help improve the quality of life for young breast cancer survivors, as well as their family and friends, by providing continuing resources and support.

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