A few newly diagnosed breast cancer patients have asked me, not only which foods will benefit them right now (which is always a good question), but also which foods they should stay away from (an even better question). I’m dedicating this post to all newly diagnosed breast cancer patients – these are the foods breast cancer patients should never touch.
Some of the foods on this list might seem obvious to those who have a basic understanding of nutrition, but I have compiled this list for the beginner who knows nothing of nutrition.
Foods Breast Cancer Patients Should Never Touch
Alcohol. When you are going through treatments for breast cancer, your body is toxic enough from the treatments. Because alcohol is made with carcinogens, and is metabolized into carcinogens by the body, and because alcohol inhibits the proper functioning of your immune system, you are much better off without it. Also, for those with estrogen receptor positive breast cancer, alcohol is known to increase estrogen levels and may interfere with the liver’s ability to remove estrogen from the bloodstream. Also, studies have shown that women who drink two to five drinks per day have about 1.5 times the breast cancer risk of non-drinkers.
Non-Organic Meat. Meat eating when you are going through breast cancer can be a topic of controversy. Some research indicates beyond a shadow of doubt that eating red meat and barbecued meat is a serious risk factor for breast cancer. Other research will tell you that there is no correlation. My suggestion is that if you are fighting an active cancer in your body right at this moment, don’t eat meat, and here’s why. Meat takes a large amount of energy to digest and you can get your protein from vegetarian sources. Once you are cancer-free you can go back to eating organic and non-processed meat if that is your desire, but give yourself days off from eating meat even then. If you want to be vegan or vegetarian and love to eat that way, that is great, continue with that. It’s your choice. Here’s why I recommend against eating conventionally raised meat. In many countries (especially the USA) this meat contains concentrated amounts of toxins including pesticides, antibiotics, chemical fertilizers, hormones and growth stimulators. In countries where cattle are injected with rBGH (a bovine growth hormone to make then grow larger faster), these cattle produce large amounts of insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1). IGF-1 is known to be a very potent stimulator of breast cancer. Some scientists believe that IGF-1 is the most potent stimulator of breast cancer known to man. To confound the matter, the pesticides and fertilizers used in cattle production can also trigger breast cancer due to their estrogen-like effects (known as xenoestrogens).
Dairy Products. There are four problems associated with dairy products:
- Food Allergies – Dairy products are a common source of food allergies. If you are lactose-intolerant and fighting cancer you would be well advised to avoid all dairy products because if your body is continually losing energy from the foods you eat, you won’t have sufficient energy to combat the cancer.
- Antibiotics and Hormones – Not all countries do this, but in areas where they do give antibiotics and hormones to dairy cattle, the practice can cause health problems. Steroid hormones such as estrogen, progesterone and testosterone are given to cattle and other animals to promote growth and development. The hormone Insulin-like Growth Factor-1 (IGF-1, discussed above) may also be given to cattle to increase milk production, bone growth and meat production. Some countries such as New Zealand, Canada and Australia and most of the EU do not allow the use of growth hormones and antibiotics in their cattle.
- Casein Content – Nutritionist Phil Richards writes of his research on casein and cancer growth that “the connection between casein and cancer was so profound in rat experiments that scientists could literally turn cancer growth on and off in the laboratory animals, like a light switch, simply by altering the level of casein protein in their diets.” Studies have found that consuming dairy products was linked to an increased risk for breast cancer because dairy products are high in fat, animal protein, and hormones, each of which increases cancer risk.
- Pesticide, Herbicide Residues – Non-organic dairy products are tainted with pesticide and herbicide residues. The fat of the animal is especially laden with these toxic chemicals, and that includes milk. There is conclusive research linking toxins from pesticides and herbicides to the development of cancer.
My advice is that if you are going through breast cancer treatments, avoid dairy products. There is ONE exception to this rule, and that is the combination of organic cottage cheese with flaxseed oil, which is an exceptional pairing of foods that gives cancer a kick in the guts. For more information on this, see my article Johanna Budwig and Her Protocol for Cancer.
Sugar. High intake of sugar is known to be a major risk factor for breast cancer, and there’s several reasons for that. Sugar suppresses the immune system, raises triglyceride levels and blood pressure, lowers your production of antibodies, inactivates macrophages (important immune system cells), and increases the incidence of Candida albicans (a fungus) in your body. Research shows that only a modest intake of sugar or glucose can cause a measurable decline in cell-mediated immunity in healthy people – and if your immune system is already low (which it will be if you have been diagnosed with cancer) sugar is just better avoided. I don’t include fruit sugar in this – fresh, ripe fruit (not canned or otherwise processed) is one of the best things you can eat when going through breast cancer due to the load of anti-cancer phytochemicals within.
Sugar Substitutes. Most sugar substitutes, while they have not been linked to increased cancer risk, are toxic chemical cocktails and should be avoided. Stay away from them and anything containing them. Erythritol is one that might be safer than the others, see Dr Michael Greger’s video on this: “A Harmless Artificial Sweetener”
Highly Processed Meats. Cured meats like bacon, bologna, sausage, ham and hot dogs all contain loads of chemicals known as nitrites, used for preserving the meat (unless they are specifically marked “nitrite free”). In the body nitrites are converted to nitrosamines, recognized as one of the most potent carcinogens in the world. Hundreds of studies have shown that there is a link between cancer development and nitrosamines found in cured meats. So avoidance of processed meats just makes good sense, unless you absolutely love them and it will be a hardship to stop eating them. If you can find organic, nitrite-free bacon or ham, that would be your best bet. And hot dogs are never okay, they contain too many questionable things. Here’s a hot tip from Dr Michael Greger at NutritionFacts.org. If you intend to eat processed meats, just ensure that you also eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables along with them, because they keep nitrites from forming into carcinogenic nitrosamines.
White Bread and Rice. Devoid of fiber, these two things are generally made from genetically modified ingredients, raise your blood sugar levels without contributing any sort of nutrition and should be strictly avoided.
Any Conventionally Grown Produce from the EWG’s Dirty Dozen List – These are the top 12 foods that tested positive for a number of different pesticide residues and contained higher concentrations of pesticides than other produce. This list is compiled on a yearly basis and is based on the toxic chemical load found on conventionally grown produce. For instance, conventionally grown strawberries are always on the list because they are so highly sprayed. If you are going through treatments for breast cancer, you are better to avoid these unless they are certified organic, to reduce your toxic load. Here’s the latest Dirty Dozen list from the EWG: https://www.ewg.org/foodnews/summary.php
Margarine & Hydrogenated Oils. Margarine is like spreadable plastic. It is so highly processed, it will not rot and even bugs refuse to touch it. Do not eat it. Also toss out any food product in your pantry that contains hydrogenated or partially-hydrogenated oils. Hydrogenated oils have been chemically altered, making them toxic to our bodies. Instead choose organic butter, or cold pressed oils like olive, avocado and coconut. Canola oil is also not good for our health, it is mostly genetically modified these days, especially in the USA.
Long Life Milks Containing Carageenan – If you choose to have a non-dairy milk like almond milk or coconut milk, make sure that the list of ingredients does not contain carrageenan, as it is a known breast carcinogen. Check that list of ingredients carefully!
Ensure – Last on the list, but the one that makes me the maddest. This supposedly healthy drink given out by doctors, hospice personnel and hospitals to their cancer patients to help them gain weight and/or cope with eating difficulties is an absolute travesty. It is full of sugar (in the form of corn syrup which is almost always genetically modified and also contains pesticides), artificial flavoring, refined starch, preservatives, synthetic vitamins and other genetically-modified ingredients. It also contains cupric sulfate, which is used as a pesticide and fungicide! No way is this a health food, the maker of this product should be made to take this off the market.
So there you have it – the top 11 foods breast cancer patients should never touch. For things that are recommended and would be a much healthier option, see my page Diet and Cancer.
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