Study Shows Curcumin Works As Well As Herceptin In Some Cases

https://marnieclark.com/Study-Shows-Curcumin-Works-As-Well-As-Herceptin-In-Some-CasesStudy Shows Curcumin Works As Well As Herceptin In Some Cases

While doing some research for one of my newsletters about curcumin, the pigment derived from the root spice turmeric, and its good effects for breast cancer, I ran across a study on curcumin that had some great information for those with HER2 positive breast cancer.

About 15-25 percent of breast cancer patients are HER2 positive, meaning that their tumors have an overexpression of this oncoprotein which researchers have observed is associated with a poor prognosis, increased disease recurrence and metastases. One of the drugs that has been created to address this problem is trastuzumab, also called Herceptin.

There is little doubt that Herceptin is saving lives, but there’s a problem for some people.

Quite a few women have contacted me from various parts of the world where Herceptin is either not available or too expensive – Africa being the main location where this is happening. These women have been diagnosed with HER2 positive breast cancer and are quite concerned that Herceptin is not available for them.  Another couple of problems exist as well. The tumor cells of some women have a resistance to Herceptin. And for some, Herceptin is too hard on their heart and/or lungs. So it is for these women that I am sharing this information.

The study I read was released in 2012 and its title is “The Potential Utility of Curcumin in the Treatment of HER-2-Overexpressed Breast Cancer: An In Vitro and In Vivo Comparison Study with Herceptin” [1].

As denoted by the title, the study was both an in vitro (test tube) study and in vivo (in body – with animals) study done with various lines of breast cancer cells and on mice. I believe the results are very interesting and are certainly worth considering, especially in view of the fact that not everyone has access to the drug Herceptin, some are resistant and some are just not able to tolerate it. These people need Herceptin alternatives.

The Research

Researchers wanted to gain some insight about what worked best for tumors that overexpress the HER2 oncoprotein. So they divided up various lines of breast cancer cells (listed below) in test tubes and also test animals into 8 different groups:

1. Those who received DMSO only
2. Those who received Herceptin only
3. Those who received curcumin only
4. Those who received a combination of Herceptin and curcumin
5. Those who received Taxol only
6. Those who received a combination of Taxol and Herceptin
7. Those who received a combination of Taxol and curcumin
8. Those who received a combination of Taxol, curcumin and Herceptin

The results revealed that curcumin reduced the cell viability of several different breast cancer cell lines, including MCF-7 (ER-positive, HER-2-negative), MDA-MB-231 (ER-negative, PR-negative, HER-2-negative – also known as triple negative), BT-474 (ER-positive, HER-2-positive), and SK-BR-3-hr (ER-negative, HER-2-positive but Herceptin-resistant) cells.

Herceptin Combined with Curcumin

Researchers found that when a low dose of Herceptin was used with curcumin, there was a synergistic effect, but when a high dose of Herceptin was used, there was an antagonistic effect, meaning that the combination didn’t work as well. So for someone having high doses of Herceptin, taking curcumin would most likely not provide an advantage.

In BT-474 cells (ER-positive, HER-2 positive), curcumin effectively decreased tumor size.

Also, researchers noted that curcumin had the ability to inhibit Herceptin-resistant breast cancer cells (SK-BR-3). This is of great importance to those who are HER2 positive but who are resistant to Herceptin. Researchers stated “The ability of curcumin to downregulate EGFR and HER-2 oncoproteins and inhibit the phosphorylation of Akt and MAPK and NF-kB activation suggests that curcumin has potential in the treatment of HER-2-overexpressed and/or herceptin-resistant breast cancer.”

In the animal study, curcumin treatment effectively reduced the tumor size by 76.7%, compared with the control; however, it was not as effective as Herceptin, which achieved an 86.7% tumor reduction.

Did you get that? Curcumin alone reduced tumor size by 76.7%. Yes, Herceptin did a better job, it reduced tumor size by 86.7% but Herceptin is also pretty hard on the body and curcumin is not.

Researchers also revealed that the combination of Herceptin and curcumin showed a greater antitumor effect than curcumin alone (87.5% versus 76.7% in tumor regression).

Interestingly, researchers anticipated the study to reveal that there would be a synergistic effect when combining Herceptin with curcumin, but in the animal study, combining Herceptin and curcumin was no better than Herceptin alone.

Taxol Combined With Curcumin

In the animal study, the combination of curcumin with Taxol had an antitumor effect comparable with combining Taxol and Herceptin, which is one of the current preferred chemotherapy regimens for those with HER2 positive breast cancer. The combination of Taxol, Herceptin and curcumin was associated with the smallest tumors, but was not “statistically different” from that of the Taxol and Herceptin regimen.

I take that last paragraph to mean that combining Taxol with curcumin is just as good as combining Taxol and Herceptin. That’s huge! And combining Taxol, Herceptin and curcumin provided the best results in the animal study.

In conclusion, I believe this study is significant. In people who do not tolerate Herceptin well or are unable to get this drug due to finances or geographical location, or for those whose tumor cells are Herceptin resistant, according to this study, the combination of Taxol and curcumin is just as good as combining Taxol and Herceptin.

For dosage advice of curcumin, see my article: Harvest The Power Of Curcumin To Kill Breast Cancer Cells.

References:
1. The Potential Utility of Curcumin in the Treatment of HER-2-Overexpressed Breast Cancer: An In Vitro and In Vivo Comparison Study with Herceptin – http://www.hindawi.com/journals/ecam/2012/486568/

GET MY BEST TIPS on getting through breast cancer and preventing recurrences by signing up for my free e-newsletters and e-books on the right.  You can also “like” me on Facebook (Marnie Clark, Breast Health Coach) to get my inspirational snippets, news and updates.  I promise to do my utmost to keep you informed and empowered on your healing journey… and beyond.  

Essential Oil Research – Benefits Of Clove

Image Source: freedigitalphotos.net / artur84

Image Source: freedigitalphotos.net / artur84

Essential Oil Research – Benefits Of Clove

Continuing my series of articles about the benefits of essential oils, this week I’m focusing on the benefits of clove essential oil, a lovely, aromatic, exotic oil.

I have previously referenced the fascinating 2014 report titled Essential Oils and Their Constituents as Anticancer Agents: A Mechanistic View 1, but the information contained therein bears repeating.  As of February 2014, 135 research papers have been written about the anti-cancer properties of essential oils.  Of those 135 papers, 117 were written after 2005, which definitely indicates the increase of interest in essential oils.

Research indicates that clove is known to have antioxidant, antibacterial, antiviral, antiseptic, analgesic, antimutagenic, antigenotoxic, and anti-inflammatory properties. Only recently, however, has clove been studied for its anti-cancer potential.

Research on Clove Essential Oil and Breast Cancer

Clove (Syzygium aromaticum L.) is one of the oils that has been studied on actual breast cancer cell lines and found to be helpful.  A study reported in 2014 2 evaluated the cytotoxic activity of clove against MCF-7 breast cancer cells, which are invasive ductal carcinoma cells exhibiting both estrogen and progesterone receptors (ER+, PR+).  The study utilized several different extracts, including water, ethanol and essential oil.  The essential oil extract provided the highest cytotoxic (that means cell killing) activity against this particular cell line.  The researchers concluded that “Cloves are natural products with excellent cytotoxicity toward MCF-7 cells; thus, they are promising sources for the development of anticancer agents.”

A study reported in 2013 3 indicated that eugenol, the most prevalent phytochemical within clove, increased apoptosis (planned cell death, a good thing), decreased a protein coding gene known as E2F1 or survivin, inhibited cell proliferation, inhibited oncoproteins known to be highly expressed in breast cancer cells and tissues, and it did this both in vitro (in test tubes) and in vivo (in the body).  The really exciting part about this research study, however, was that they tested various breast cancer cell lines, including triple negative, and found that eugenol exhibited anti-cancer effects on both estrogen receptor positive and estrogen receptor negative breast cancer cells. Eugenol was found not to be toxic to normal, healthy cells.

A 2012 study 4 indicated that eugenol not only had the ability to inhibit cell proliferation and promote apoptosis (both features which are lacking with cancer cells), it also exhibited the ability to inhibit estrogen, making it similar or even better than tamoxifen and its metabolites for inhibiting estrogen.  Did you get that?  A NATURAL ANTI-ESTROGEN AGENT!

Having said that, I always say that healing from breast cancer is about more than just blocking the body’s own estrogen, a hormone we need in our bodies. There are many other ways to heal from breast cancer than suppressing a hormone that does so much for our health. Find out what some of those things are via my free newsletters – you can sign up for them from any page on my site.

Other Studies on Clove’s Anti-Cancer Effects

Another 2014 study  5 indicated that clove “can be explored as a viable source of bioactives for the development of chemotherapeutic drugs against cancer in addition to acting as nutraceutical and functional food ingredient.” This study found that the phenols found in clove were anti-mutagenic and highly antioxidant, making clove a valuable chemotherapeutic agent (that means cancer preventative).

A Chinese study also reported in 2014 6 investigated the anti-tumor effects of clove on colon tumors, specifically an ethyl acetate extract of cloves (which the first study referenced at 2 below also utilized and found was inferior to the essential oil of clove). They also tested oleanolic acid, one of the constituents of clove, and found the ethyl acetate extract to be superior to oleanolic acid, as well as superior to the chemotherapy drug 5-fluorouracil at suppressing growth of colon tumor xenografts. The study found clove inhibited tumor growth, promoted cell cycle arrest and apoptosis.

Exciting research, is it not?

Disclaimer:
I am not telling you to cure your breast cancer using essential oils. I would certainly not rely upon essential oils alone to do that job. But in combination with a holistic regimen of nutrition and other lifestyle changes, together with chemotherapy and radiation (should you choose to go that route) I believe that essential oils can be an extremely beneficial healing tool and chemopreventive aid.

You can read my other articles on essential oil research by clicking this link.

References:

1.  Essential Oils and Their Constituents as Anticancer Agents: A Mechanistic View –   http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4070586/

2.  Anticancer Potential of Syzygium Aromaticum L. in MCF-7 Human Breast Cancer Cell Lines – http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4166826/

3.  Eugenol Triggers Apoptosis in Breast Cancer Cells Through E2f1/Survivin Down-regulation – http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3931838/

4. Structure-based Design of Eugenol Analogs as Potential Estrogen Receptor Antagonists – http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3488830/

5.  In Vitro Antimutagenic, Antioxidant Activities and Total Phenolics of Clove (Syzygium Aromaticum L.) Seed Extracts – http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25015457

6.  Clove Extract Inhibits Tumor Growth and Promotes Cell Cycle Arrest and Apoptosis – http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4132639/

GET MY BEST TIPS on getting through breast cancer and preventing recurrences by signing up for my free e-newsletters and e-books on the right.  You can also “like” me on Facebook (MarnieClark.com) to get my inspirational snippets, news and updates.  I promise to do my utmost to keep you informed and empowered on your healing journey… and beyond. 

Herceptin and HER2 Positive Breast Cancer – Is It Effective – Part Two

Image Source: rgbstock.com / Jana Koll

Image Source: rgbstock.com / Jana Koll

Herceptin and HER2 Positive Breast Cancer – Is It Effective – Part Two

Because I like to keep you updated with the latest information and research, this post is a follow up to my post “Herceptin and HER2 + Breast Cancer – Is It Effective?” dated 2/18/2014.  Since writing that post, I have read some newer research and I wanted to share this with you.

A Synopsis Of My Last Post…

In my February 2014 post I  referred to one study done in 2002 1 in which 114 women, all of whom had metastases to other parts of their bodies, were given only Herceptin to treat their HER2 positive breast cancer.  The researchers reported that seventeen (57%) out of thirty patients had an objective response (which means either a partial or complete response) and twenty-two (51%) out of forty-three patients had what was termed a clinical benefit, an informal term which generally means anything other than progression of disease.  These patients also did not experience progression of disease at the follow-up appointment scheduled 12 months later.  Loosely translated, this means that roughly fifty percent of women with metastatic, HER2 positive breast cancer, treated only with Herceptin, remained alive after twelve months.

An Update Of The HERA Trial

The other article I referenced which appeared on the National Cancer Institute website 2 in 2011 discussed the Herceptin Adjuvant (HERA) trial, run by the Breast International Group beginning in 2001.  At the time of reporting the HERA trial was not complete.  We now have the final results of the HERA trial which was carried out for 8 years.

After finishing surgery, chemotherapy and/or radiotherapy, 5102 women with HER2 positive breast cancer were randomly assigned to one of three groups.  In the first group 1703 patients received trastuzumab (Herceptin) every 3 weeks for 1 year, a second group of 1701 patients were treated with Herceptin for 2 years, and in the third group 1698 patients were merely observed and given no Herceptin.  After the initial results of the study were released in 2005 the observation group was offered the chance to be moved into one of the two groups receiving Herceptin.

One of the reasons the HERA trial was conducted was to decide how long Herceptin should be given to achieve the best, disease free survival.  In terms of percentages, 75.8% of women who took Herceptin for two years were still alive, and 76% of women who took Herceptin for one year were still alive.  So taking the drug for an additional year conferred no extra benefits.  As a result of this study, most oncologists recommend that Herceptin be taken for one year.

The Latest Research

In my previous article about the efficacy of Herceptin I didn’t give a very glowing report and indeed, the statistics weren’t all that impressive, at least not to my eyes.

Unfortunately we don’t have any research indicating what a good healthy diet and specific supplements would do for women with HER2 positive breast cancer, no one will be funding THAT study.

In the meantime I have had some newer research put in front of me by an interested reader, which study was reported in the New England Journal of Medicine earlier this year.   This research study followed 406 node-negative (meaning cancer had not spread to their lymph nodes) women with stage 1, HER2 positive breast cancer. These women had tumors up to 3 cm in size and were treated with a combination of paclitaxel (Taxol) and Herceptin weekly for 12 weeks, followed by 9 months of Herceptin alone.  The 3 year survival rate was 98.7%, a much more impressive figure.

To see the full results of the trial, check out “Clinical practice-changing trials: the HERA study paradigm”4 below.  It’s a downloadable PDF file.  See especially Table 1 Efficacy Results Of The Herceptin Adjuvant Study With Different Follow-Up Times, page 3 of that document.  You can draw your own conclusions.

Word Of Caution

I’d like to insert a couple of things here, just a tiny word of precaution.  Take into account, please, that the research was supported by Genentech, the company that stands to gain the most by the research.  Also please note that in the 2015 research the women who took part in the study were considered stage 1, their tumors were small and the disease had not spread elsewhere in the body.  These are the women who have the best chance of survival anyway, their disease being caught early.

Another thing to consider is that both Taxol and Herceptin can be very hard on the heart.   Nine patients (true, a relatively small percentage, only 0.54%, but if you’re one of those women…) in the HERA trial who received Herceptin developed severe congestive heart failure.  Even the researchers in the 2015 study 3 stated “the decision to use trastuzumab and chemotherapy is influenced by the toxicity of the treatment regimen.”

This cardiotoxicity may or may not be reversible.  If you are considering going on this drug, it might be wise to consult a naturopath for correct dosages of cardio-protective supplements, such as CoQ10, garlic and grapeseed extract.

References:

1.  Efficacy and safety of trastuzumab as a single agent in first-line treatment of HER2-overexpressing metastatic breast cancer – http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11821453

2.  Trastuzumab after Chemotherapy Is Effective in HER2-Positive Breast Cancer – http://www.cancer.gov/types/breast/research/trastuzumab-after-chemo

3.  Adjuvant Paclitaxel and Trastuzumab for Node-Negative, HER2-Positive Breast Cancer – http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4313867/

4.  Clinical practice-changing trials: the HERA study paradigm — http://www.researchgate.net/profile/Dimitrios_Zardavas2/publication/258057600_Clinical_practice-changing_trials_the_HERA_study_paradigm/links/53d64f740cf2a7fbb2ea9b1b.pdf

For some good dietary tips for HER2 positive breast cancer, see my article The Best Diet For HER2 Positive Breast Cancer.

GET MY BEST TIPS on getting through breast cancer and preventing recurrences by signing up for my free e-newsletters and e-books on the right.  You can also “like” me on Facebook (MarnieClark.com) to get my inspirational snippets, news and updates.  I promise to do my utmost to keep you informed and empowered on your healing journey… and beyond.  

The Best Diet Against Inflammatory Breast Cancer

Image Source: morgueFile / adicshun

Image Source: morgueFile / adicshun

The Best Diet Against Inflammatory Breast Cancer

Continuing my series of articles on dietary recommendations for particular types of breast cancer, this one is directed towards those who have been diagnosed with inflammatory breast cancer.

What Exactly is Inflammatory Breast Cancer?

Inflammatory breast cancer ( or “IBC”) is a more unusual form of invasive breast cancer that affects the lymphatic vessels in the skin of the breast, causing the breast to become red and inflamed.

Where most breast cancers form a lump (known as the tumor) IBC spreads along and blocks the lymphatic vessels in the skin of the breast.  Lymphatic vessels are responsible for removing excess fluids and waste products from the body to help prevent infections.  When lymphatic vessels become blocked, the breast becomes red and swollen, similar to an infection.  This is what gives IBC its name.

Only about 1-2% of women diagnosed with breast cancer have IBC, so it’s reasonably rare and often misdiagnosed.  The majority of women diagnosed with IBC range in age between 40-59.

Diet and Inflammatory Breast Cancer

Because IBC tends to be a more rare form of breast cancer, few studies on people have investigated the effectiveness of a certain type of diet  for its beneficial effects on IBC.  Having said that, a few studies have demonstrated the impact of food extracts on IBC cells in the laboratory and those studies have indicated these three foods to have benefit for IBC patients:
Reishi mushrooms1
Pomegranate juice2
Green tea3

Despite the lack of studies on humans, it only makes sense that by adopting an anti-inflammatory diet you will be helping to heal IBC.  Cancer is inflammation, after all.  Prof Fran Balkwill of Cancer Research UK states “If genetic damage is the match that lights the fire, inflammation may provide the fuel that feeds the flames.”

Food That You Should Include In Your Diet If You Have Inflammatory Breast Cancer

Wherever possible, try to ensure that the items from the list below are organic, because if you are trying to heal from cancer you need to stay away from conventionally grown produce and meats as much as possible due to pesticide residues in produce and, in the case of meats, growth stimulators and antibiotics.  You really need to keep the toxin load at a minimum to give your body the best chance to heal. If you are unable to obtain organically grown produce, just make sure to wash it extremely well.  Soak produce in a tub or pail of fresh water with a little white vinegar for a few minutes, then rinse well.

Here’s the list of foods and spices (or their components) which have been found to decrease inflammation:

    • Oily fish, like salmon, mackerel, tuna and sardines, are high in omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to help reduce inflammation;
    • Freshly ground flaxseed – for the same reason as above – the omega 3 fatty acids and flaxseed’s lignans with their uncanny ability to decrease the growth of breast cancer4;
    • Whole grains – in moderation.  Quinoa, brown rice, steel cut oats, bulgur wheat are good.  Consuming whole grains can be helpful for keeping inflammation at bay.  Avoid refined, white bread, cereal, rice, and pasta.  Whole grains have more fiber, which has been shown to reduce levels of C-reactive protein, a marker of inflammation in the blood, and they usually have less sugar;
    • Dark, leafy greens – full of vitamin E which is key for protecting the body from pro-inflammatory molecules called cytokines.  Spinach, kale, broccoli, collard greens, etc are great, they also tend to have higher concentrations of key vitamins and minerals and natural phytochemicals which fight disease than veggies with lighter-colored leaves;
    • Bell peppers contain high quantities of antioxidant vitamins.  Hot chilies are also useful – they are rich in capsaicin, a chemical used in topical creams that reduce pain and inflammation;
    • Beets and their juice (raw of course) have excellent antioxidant properties, vitamins, fiber and plant pigments which have been shown to reduce inflammation, as well as protect against cancer;
    • Fresh basil and peppermint – full of antioxidants, highly anti-inflammatory;
    • Ginger has anti-inflammatory properties.  Studies have linked ginger to lowered post-exercise inflammation and a decrease in joint pain caused by osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. They aren’t sure why this happens, only that it is beneficial for inflammation;
    • Turmeric is potently anti-inflammatory.  Research indicates it is able to turn off a NF-kappa B, a protein that regulates the immune system and triggers the process of inflammation;
    • Garlic shuts off the pathways that lead to inflammation in the body;
    • Onions contain quercetin and allicin, which breaks down to produce free radical-fighting sulfenic acid;
    • Orange food – sweet potatoes, carrots, cantaloupe, pumpkin, apricots – all high in vitamins C and E and the carotenoids, alpha- and beta-carotene, which are potent anti-inflammatories;
    • Extra virgin olive oil contains oleocanthal (it’s a phytochemical that gives olive oil its taste) and it has been shown to have a similar effect as NSAID painkillers in the body;
    • Coconut oil has been studied for its anti-inflammatory properties 5;
    • Berries (blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, bilberries, etc) are a rich source of anthocyanins, powerful phytochemicals that give the berries their rich colors and are potent anti-inflammatories;
    • Raisins – eating raisins helps to reduce a marker of inflammation known as TNF-alpha;
    • Tart cherries – a 2012 study found that tart cherries have the “highest anti-inflammatory content of any food.”6  The study indicated that tart cherry juice can reduce inflammation in the blood of lab rats by up to 50%.  In humans, tart cherries have been shown to help athletes improve performance and reduce their use of anti-inflammatory pain medications.  They contain high levels of anthocyanins 1 and 2.  A therapeutic dose is 1-1/2 cups of tart cherries per day – or 1 cup of tart cherry juice.  Sweet cherries don’t have the same effects;
    • Cruciferous vegetables such as arugula, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, bok choy, kale and wasabi, because they are rich in sulfur, which helps your liver detox;
    • Vitamin D – research indicates that adequate levels of vitamin D are important for inhibiting the metastasis of IBC 7

This is not an exhaustive list – indeed, there are many other foods which are known to have anti-cancer benefits.   See my page Diet and Cancer for a list of other foods that have anti-cancer activity.

I recommend that breast cancer patients and survivors with IBC include as many as they can of the things on the “good” list above and limit or avoid the “please avoid” things that appear below.

Please Avoid These

No food list is complete without mentioning the things that should be avoided for inflammatory breast cancer because they have been shown to promote breast cancer growth. Those things are:

White and other highly processed breads, cereals, white rice, pasta, sugar in all its forms, most fruit (because of the fruit sugars), most dairy products, alcohol, cigarette smoking.

A Warning About Copper

According to the website foodforbreastcancer.com, “Circulating copper levels have been shown to correlate with tumor incidence and burden. Inducing copper deficiency reduced tumor growth and angiogenesis in a mouse model of IBC.”  It was recommended to avoid the following high-copper foods:

Calf’s liver or veal liver
Beef liver
Shellfish, especially oysters & lobster
Sesame seeds
Soybean products made with defatted soy flour, soybeans
Chocolate, dark & cocoa powder
Nuts, especially cashews, brazil nuts, hazelnuts, walnuts, and pistachio nuts
Calamari
Cooked shiitake mushrooms
Sunflower seeds & pumpkin seeds
Sun dried tomatoes
Lentils

Special note: kale also contains plenty of copper but the good benefits of kale – its detoxification and anti-cancer properties – I feel outweigh the copper concern.  If you were worried about it, you could take an antacid after eating kale or the foods listed above because the stomach requires an acid environment to properly absorb copper. Antacids interfere with this absorption.

Essential Oils May Play a Role In Anti-Inflammatory Process

One last item – there are also quite a number of essential oils which research has indicated may be helpful for inflammatory conditions. Nearly every single essential oil has anti-inflammatory benefits. I have been writing articles about essential oils for The Truth About Cancer website, so head on over there and put “essential oils” into the search field.

Thanks in part to http://foodforbreastcancer.com/ for some of the dietary recommendations in this article.  Written by Sarah Charles, also a breast cancer survivor and a woman of sharp intellect, Sarah has a mathematics degree from UCLA and is a Harvard graduate.

Research:

1.  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23468988

2.  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23065001

3.  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24039951

4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24869971

5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20645831

6. http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/researchers-say-tart-cherries-have-the-highest-anti-inflammatory-content-of-any-food-155672215.html

7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22610818

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16987032

GET MY BEST TIPS on getting through breast cancer and preventing recurrences by signing up for my free e-newsletters and e-books on the right.  You can also “like” me on Facebook (Marnie Clark Breast Health Coach) to get my inspirational snippets, news and updates.  I promise to do my utmost to keep you informed and empowered on your healing journey… and beyond. 

The Best Diet For HER2 Positive Breast Cancer

Image source: rgbstock / AI71 Image source: rgbstock / AI71

The Best Diet For HER2 Positive Breast Cancer

Continuing my series of articles on dietary recommendations for particular types of breast cancer, this one is for those of you who have been diagnosed with HER2 Positive (HER2+) breast cancer.

What Exactly is HER2 Positive Breast Cancer?

HER2 positive refers to a type of breast cancer that overexpresses the HER2/neu gene. About 15-20% of breast cancers are HER2+, meaning the cancer is fueled by over-production of the human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 protein.  HER2+ breast cancers contain excess copies of this gene, leading to dramatically more HER2 protein on the surface of cancer cells.  Because of this protein, which produces signals that tell the cells to grow, they do so out of control, causing this form of breast cancer.

Many women are told that a HER2+ diagnosis is associated with a significantly higher chance of local breast cancer recurrence (that means the cancer often returns in the same breast as the original tumor). Before the late 1990s, women with HER2+ breast cancer had poorer survival rates. Today, however, because of targeted therapies like Herceptin, this is no longer the case and it is a much more treatable disease.  Herceptin works by attaching to HER2 receptors on cancer cells, blocking signals that cause growth, and alerting the immune system to destroy the cancer.

Can Diet Make A Difference?

Please know that there are plenty of things you can eat and supplements you can take which will make a big difference for you and will assist your return to wellness.

Research shows that there are some foods and spices that are especially potent in inhibiting HER2+ breast cancer cell growth and proliferation and in promoting the process known as apoptosis (programmed cell death).  In addition, some foods have been found to amplify the effects of Herceptin.

Food That You Should Include In Your Diet If You Have HER2+ Breast Cancer

Wherever possible, try to ensure that the items from the list below are organic, because if you are trying to heal from cancer you need to stay away from conventionally grown produce and meats as much as possible due to the pesticide and herbicide residues.  You really need to keep the toxin load at a minimum to give your body a better chance to heal.

Here’s the list of foods and spices (or their components) which have been found to inhibit the growth or proliferation of HER2+ breast cancer cells. Many of these things also help to counteract the toxicity of Herceptin:

bell peppers (capsicum), black pepper, blueberries, red cabbage, green cabbage, cauliflower, bok choy/Chinese cabbage, broccoli, brown rice, Brussels sprouts, purple carrots, cherries (particularly sour cherries), celery, cranberries, red grapes, green tea, horseradish, herring, hot peppers, lake trout, mackerel, mustard and mustard greens, extra virgin olive oil, red onions, parsley, pomegranates, raspberries, black rice, wild caught salmon, sardines, tomatoes, turmeric, turnips and turnip greens, walnuts, watercress. See also my article Study Shows Curcumin Works as Well as Herceptin In Some Cases.

This is not an exhaustive list – indeed, there are many other foods which are known to have anti-cancer benefits – but this is the list that we have research for which indicates a potent anti-HER2+ activity. See my page Diet and Cancer for a list of other foods that have anti-cancer activity.

I recommend that breast cancer patients and survivors with HER2+ breast cancer include as many of the things on the “good” list above and limit or avoid the “please avoid” things that appear below.

Please Avoid These

No food list is complete without mentioning the things that should be avoided for HER2+ breast cancer because they have been shown to promote HER2+ breast cancer growth or increase HER2+ expression. Those things are: alcohol, folic acid supplements, genistein supplements (but whole soy foods are fine), the Chinese herb ligusticum chuanxiong, the Chinese herb Si-Wu-Tang (may interfere with the effectiveness of Herceptin), soy protein isolate, cigarette smoking.

If you are taking Herceptin or Lapatinib, it’s best to avoid grapefruit, Seville oranges and star fruit as well, as they can increase your risk of side effects. Source of info:

https://patienteducation.osumc.edu/Documents/TrastuzumabLapatinib.pdf

Foods That Assist the Effects of Herceptin

The following foods have been found to assist the effects of Herceptin against HER2+ breast cancer:

açaí berries, blackberries, boysenberries, cherries (particularly sour or tart), blackcurrants, cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, Brussels sprouts etc), flaxseed, green tea, extra virgin olive oil, passion fruit, purple or red plums, pomegranates, black raspberries, black or purple rice, strawberries, purple sweet potatoes, walnuts

There are also quite a number of essential oils and other supplements which research has indicated are helpful against HER2 positive breast cancer so be sure to check out those resources on my website.

Thanks for some of the dietary recommendations in this article goes out to http://foodforbreastcancer.com/ – written by Sarah Charles, also a breast cancer survivor and a woman of sharp intellect, Sarah has a mathematics degree from UCLA and is a Harvard graduate.

GET MY BEST TIPS on getting through breast cancer and preventing recurrences by signing up for my free e-newsletters and e-books on the right.  You can also “like” me on Facebook (Marnie Clark, Breast Health Coach) to get my inspirational snippets, news and updates.  I promise to do my utmost to keep you informed and empowered on your healing journey… and beyond.  

The Best Diet For Triple Negative Breast Cancer

Image Source: Freedigitalphotos.net / Rakratchada Torsap

Image Source: Freedigitalphotos.net / Rakratchada Torsap

The Best Diet For Triple Negative Breast Cancer

As a follow-up to last week’s article The Best Diet For Hormone Receptor Positive Breast Cancers, this one is all about the best food for someone who has or is healing from triple negative breast cancer.

Doctors often tell us that triple negative breast cancer is harder to overcome because the usual hormonal therapies don’t work for this form of breast cancer. Don’t let that worry you though – there are plenty of things you can eat and supplements you can take which will greatly help your return to wellness.

What Does Triple Negative Breast Cancer Mean?

If the term “triple negative” is unfamiliar to you, it refers to the fact that this type of breast cancer has no hormone receptors on the surface of the cells, meaning it is not fueled by hormones. It is estrogen receptor negative (ER-), progesterone receptor negative (PR-), and it does not overexpress HER2, three of the things your pathologist will be looking for when a tumor has been removed and is examined to see what therapies should be recommended. It is often referred to as “TNBC”.

Does Food Actually Make A Difference?

Yes it does.  A recent small study done on 354 women with TNBC found “that dietary modulations and/or micronutrient supplementations may prevent or reverse TNBC phenotype, so tumors can be treated with less toxic therapeutic strategies, particularly in genetically susceptible women.” 1

In another study reported in 2013, scientists found that “omega-3 and its metabolites undermine proliferation in all cell lines. However, they were dramatically more effective in inhibiting proliferation in the triple-negative cell lines.” 2

Blueberries have specifically been researched for their effects on TNBC at the City of Hope cancer center in California, check out my article:  Interesting City of Hope Research On Blueberries And Triple Negative Breast Cancer .

Another article you might find interesting, written by Jennifer Griffin, sharing her story of how she beat TNBC:  How I Kicked Triple Negative Breast Cancer .

Food That You Should Include In Your Diet If You Have Triple Negative Breast Cancer

Wherever possible, try to ensure that the items from the list below are organic, because if you are trying to heal from cancer you need to stay away from conventionally grown produce and meats as much as possible due to the pesticide and herbicide residues. You really need to keep the toxin load at a minimum to give your body a better chance to heal.  If you are unable to obtain organically grown produce, just make sure to wash – wash – wash it extremely well.  Soak produce in a tub or pail of fresh water with a little white vinegar for a few minutes, then rinse well.

Here’s the list:

Apples, arugula, bell peppers, black pepper, blackberries, blueberries, bok choy, blackcurrants, boysenberries, broccoli, brown rice, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, cherries (both sweet and sour), coconut oil, collard greens, cranberries (not the sugared dried ones), cucumbers, flaxseed (freshly ground is best), garlic, ginger, grapes (red are best), green tea, hemp, herring, honey (minimally processed), horseradish, hot peppers, kale, lake trout, leeks, lettuce – romaine, mackerel, mangoes, mustard & mustard greens, omega-3 fats, onions, parsley, peas, pomegranate juice, pumpkin, raspberries, reishi mushrooms, saffron, salmon (wild), sardines, seaweed, spinach, squash, tomatoes, turmeric, tuna, turnips, turnip greens, walnuts, watercress, watermelon, zucchini.

One more thing you might find helpful – the supplement MSM has been found to be useful for TNBC.  See my article:  South Korean Study On MSM Indicates Potent Anti-Breast Cancer Activity (the research  specifically mentions TNBC).

There are also quite a number of essential oils that research has indicated are helpful as well, if you would like to know more about which ones to use, contact me.

For information on the food that should be avoided, as well as a list of supplements and nutrients that support a healthy body and should be included in your health regime, see my page Diet and Cancer.

A big thank you for part of the food list goes out to http://foodforbreastcancer.com/ – written by Sarah Charles, herself a breast cancer survivor, and a woman of sharp intellect, Sarah has a mathematics degree from UCLA and is a Harvard graduate.

References:

1. Combined genetic and nutritional risk models of triple negative breast cancer:
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25023197

2. Omega-3 Fatty Acids Slow Triple-Negative Breast Cancer Cell Proliferation:
http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/259069.php

GET MY BEST TIPS on getting through breast cancer and preventing recurrences by signing up for my free e-newsletters and e-books on the right. You can also “like” me on Facebook (MarnieClark.com) to get my inspirational snippets, news and updates. I promise to do my utmost to keep you informed and empowered on your healing journey… and beyond.

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