breast cancer diet - red meat

I’d be interested to know what the different diet protocols do regarding red meat. I’ve heard from some sources that red meat shouldn’t be eaten if you have breast cancer. However I saw a private environmental doc in Bristol who said it was OK as long as it was organic and unprocessed etc. She said that studies on red meats and cancers included processed meats such as sausages.

I have seen a different environmental doctor in the UK who has also told me it is OK for me to eat unprocessed red meat. He says its the transfats I should be avoiding. In fact he reckons I am low in saturated fats and phospholipids as I have not been eating eggs, shellfish or milk for years cos of food intolerances.

I am unable to eat dairy or eggs and can only tolerate a small amount of beans and pulses. And I cannot eat a high carbohydrate diet so must have a good source of protein in my diet. Which only really leaves fish if I don’t eat red meat. And although I eat fish several times a week I don’t know if I’d stomach eating it every day.

Hi carolwat

Welcome to the Breast Cancer Care discussion forums, I hope you find them to be a great source of support and information.

Whilst you wait for the other users to reply with their experience and advice you may find it useful to have a look at the BCC booklet ‘diet and breast cancer’ If you would like a copy or to read this on line just follow this link:-*/changeTemplate/PublicationDisplay/publicationId/14/

I hope this is hlepful.

Best wishes Sam (BCC Facilitator)

What about organic chicken, do you like that? I eat red meat probably only a couple of times a year which is nothing to do with the breast cancer but because I don’t really enjoy it much.
I mince up chicken breasts and make spaghetti bolonese or cottage pie etc with that.

With fish can you up the oily ones like salmon?

Also what about nuts, can you increase those.

I don’t know what an environmental doctor is. I think it is extremely rare for someone to have low saturated fat to the point where it would be considered a bad thing if that’s even possible - were blood tests done?

What scientific evidence is there for and against any food v breast cancer. If there was any conclusive evidence for any food increasing the risk of breast cancer then all women would be offered this advice either before diagnosis to decrease the risk of getting it or straight after diagnosis to decrease the spread. But I have not heard of anyone being given any advice by any NHS oncologist.

If it was as simple as handing out a sheet of paper giving food do and don’ts the oncologist would jump at the chance.

NHS oncologist are the experts on cancer and if they do not recommend it I feel it is not worth listening to. I say NHS as private doctors have a “possible” vested interest in promoting anything they want to as they get paid per visit etc. NHS doctors do not have any monetary interest in promoting anything other than what they believe help and is useful.

A “healthy” diet will make anyone whether they have cancer or not feel better, and it is proven that we should all limit the intake of red meat due to the fat content compared to white meat, but as I have never heard of it being linked to breast cancer.


Hi Bhoonie

I think you answered the question yourself - it isn’t simple at all - in fact it is extremely complicated. But if anyone is interested, this is a very good evidence based summary:

finty x


I wish what you said was true. There is strong evidence which links increased risk with alcohol (particularly those of us with ER+ cancer and lobular cancer) yet not a single doctor has told me about this. See World Cancer Research Fund or Breakthrough Breast cancer or Macmillan for more on that.

There is some evidence for a low fat diet - again not been mentioned by a single doctor.

The whole diet issue is such a minefield I think they just avoid it all together.

Hi Marian,
Im definately with you on this one , there have been many reputable scientific studies looking at Diet and BC especialy in relation to Red Meat/Dairy/Sugar ect but most of the studies to date still continue to find no link .

One of the largest studies ever undertaken re Diet and Cancer is the EPIC study , EPIC is a long-term study of more than 500,000 people in ten European countries. Around 90,000 are British men and women, including about 30,000 vegetarians.
Below is cancer research uk August podcast on the subject of diet and cancer for anyone who may be interested especialy in relation to BC.

Like you i believe if the evidence was strong enough between any of these food groups and BC ,we would most certainly be made awear of it by our medical teams/cancer specialists/cancer charities ect and we would be issued with diet sheets of the foods to avoid.

Diet does of course play an important role in terms of Obesity, as obesity is known to be a risk factor in BC so keeping to a healthy weight, whilst also trying to limit or cut out alcohol will help in reducing risk .

I do think the advice given of a healthy balanced diet with all things in moderation is proberly the best advice for all of us whether we have cancer or not, as it provides us with all the many nutrients/vitamins our bodies require to help in fighting/preventing desease,

Take Care.


If you’d prefer to make up your own mind just based on the facts, straight from the research, without the filter of non-scientific bias - the research is all collated in one place for you here:

It allows you to pull out the individual research results studying hundreds of different foodstuffs as they relate specifically to breast cancer. I sincerely doubt the average onc has read even 10% of these reports - I’d like to be wrong, but I doubt it.

Hi I was reading your link finty with interest and an open mind.THEN I came across this “LEFT HANDEDNESS IS A MARKER FOR INCREASED BREAST CANCER RISK”.Well all credibility went straight out the window.

just for interest I am right handed and got breast cancer my sister who is left handed hasn’t got breast cancer.


Hi Melly - I haven’t read that research, but as the website collates research from all around the world, it would be odd to discount all of it on the basis of one of hundreds of projects. What does that research say and why do you think it lacks credibility?
finty x

Hi Melly - this is what it says:

Left-handedness is a marker for increased breast cancer risk
Last updated: September 12, 2010
Based on the few studies that have been performed, being left-handed appears to be a marker of increased risk of breast cancer. The most recent study examining this question found that the risk of developing postmenopausal breast cancer among left-handed women was more than twice the risk of right-handers. The explanation that has been proposed for the link to handedness is that high exposure to estrogens in the womb influences the part of the brain that determines whether a person will be left-handed or right-handed. In support of this theory, it has been noted that women exposed to diethylstilbestrol (DES) in the womb are more likely to be left-handed than the general population.

High prenatal estrogen exposure is also known to influence breast development in such as way as to increase the likelihood of subsequent breast cancer. Therefore, to the extent that left-handedness is evidence of high estrogen exposure in the womb, it may also signal increased risk of breast cancer.

What to do with this information

Information concerning a link between handedness and risk of breast cancer is not likely to be of use to women who have already been diagnosed with breast cancer. However, it might encourage those at high risk and those with left-handed daughters to be vigilant with respect to breast cancer screening and to take appropriate steps to mitigate breast cancer risk.

It seems to be a reasoned take on some interesting statistics - the concluding paragraph is the website’s own analysis on what to do with the information - can’t see a problem with it.


I think that it is all just ‘possible links/risks’. I am a vegetarian so haven’t eaten red meat (or any meat or fish) for over 30 years! I drink green tea and eat a well balanced diet with lots of fruit and veg. My surgeon actually told me that I couldn’t have done anything else to reduce my risk of breast cancer (or any other cancer)! He said it was ‘just one of those things’! I guess my cancer could have been smaller and less aggressive due to my diet - but who knows? I will just carry on as I am and hope it doesn’t come back.
I think that if changing your diet or life style helps you to cope, go for it and the very best of luck. (not intentionally rude, I really mean good luck!)
Best wishes to all.

I agree with miscally I have been vegetarian for the last 35 years and vegan for 10 of those so cant really see what you eat helps at all but if it makes you feel better I would think that is a good thing,still think the vegan diet is best but blame mine on HRT, just hope the mx got rid of it for good,

I think it is one of many things that helps reduce risk - unlikely to prevent breast cancer on it’s own, but will make a small marginal difference to your overall risk profile, along with not smoking, drinking, maintaining a healthy weight and all the other things we should (but aren’t) advised to do. finty x

I think if they put an article on that site saying people with blue eyes could be at more risk of getting breast cancer than those with green
because a survey was done and in 100 people half had blue eyes and half had green and 30 with blue eyes went on to get cancer compared to 20 with green,some would still not have a problem with it :slight_smile:


Thanks for the comments.

Regarding diet, I cannot tolarate many nuts and can only eat a little bit of pulses and don’t tolerate chicken well either. And although I eat fish several times a week its difficult to up that any more. I used to have a good source of free range guineafowl but that dried up.

In response to someone’s comments about saturated fats. I have had ME for many years and have kept up to date with various nutritional/complementary areas. I did some blood tests and I am very low in cholesterol etc. Apparently our brain takes up most of its energy in the form of fat, so its essential for good brain function to have healthy fats and this included saturated fats. Its transfats that I have been told to reduce - e.g. fats arising from frying cheap oils. Depression can frequently be caused by low fat diets. But I am taking coconut oil for my saturated fats.

Regarding the phospholipids, improving my mitochondrial function is useful for both my breast cancer and ME. There are now tests available looking at the mitochondrial wall of cells, and mine are abnormal and it is believed that phospholipids will help this. So I am also taking this mix of phosphatidyl choline mixed with other oils in the correct ratio. I take lecithin also.

Hi Finty
It is not true that doctors do not consider foods as a possible cause of any disease. Take diabetes for example not everyone diagnosed with diabetes will get insulin injections, some will be given a diet to follow. Not everyone with high cholestrol will be given tablets some follow a low fat diet. So some diets are known to improve some conditions.
My son is in research scientist and I know from him if he could “Prove” a link between any food and cancer (or any other disease) he would be very happy and wealthy

It is true that a healthy low fat diet is good for everyone including cancer patients.

I still have a problem with any website that gives out information that links certain foods and breast cancer.

I would still rather put my faith in my oncologist and breast surgeon who have more experience with breast cancer/cancer than I have.

I would be very interested to know how someone would make money from ‘proving a link between any food and cancer’

The fact is there is no money to be made and there-in lies the problem.

A few very healthy vegans on here have developed bc, this is not proof that diet is not linked to bc. It may be the HRT, who knows they may have been on the pill early, had a very stressful life experience, use lots of cleaning products which produce synthetic eostrogens in the body, and have a fundamental body weakness that pre-disposes them to cancer. These things all add up to cause cancer, and the very healthy diet was not enough to over-come the other variables.

There are so many variables in this disease, and no one on this site is trying to claim that diet will cure cancer, but to out-right dismiss diet is, for want of a better word and trying not to appear rude, just simply odd. There also seems to be a lot of over-weight women with breast cancer, and sorry, but you don’t get fat from eating vegetables!!

I also thought the left-handed link was valid and well explained.

Oncs are trained in medicine that is it, - go to a nutritionist, many who have degree and spent years studying diet and they will certainly not dismiss diet as a cause or cure in cancer.

oh,and my boyfriend has suspected diabetes, he was told by his GP ‘just eat a few more vegetables and a bit less sugar’ hardly definative and comprehensive diet advice…

If a link was proven between food and cancer it would then become a option for treatment for that particular cancer, if a anyone could really prove this link it would be sold around the world for use in the treatment in that country. In this country it would be sold to the NHS as any other treatment or drug that is proven is sold to the NHS to use.