Just don't know what to eat!

I have just found out that most wholemeal bread and my cod liver oil capsules contain soya. I also have a thyroid gland problem which rules out various foods, especially some types of veg. There is also conflicting advice over things like Evening Primrose Oil. It is so confusing. I am at a loss to know what to eat. So many ordinary foods seem to contain things we should avoid. Also, I can’t help feeling I am shutting the stable door…! I tend to eat a fairly healthy diet and am inclined to just carry on. Any thoughts?

I just read ‘Foods to fight cancer’ by Prof Richard Beliveau and Dr Denis Gingras which is very good:

Focuses on what you can eat to benefit you more than what you should avoid, though processed food, refined sugar seem to be the obvious baddies.

I agree with gardenbeetle - I’ve had this book for a couple of years now, and have tailored my eating habits to include more the the cancer fighting foods. It’s quite easy to do, and is not contraversial like Jane Plant’s books.

Hi all

Re: soya - if you read the packaging on many processed foods, soya is in many of them, but I think the amounts per serving would be tiny - I mean, you’re not going to eat a whole packet of gravy granules in one sitting, are you?

I’ve given up soya milk, yoghurt, etc and only consume tofu as an occasional treat now. But I don’t worry about microscopic amounts in seasonings and tablets, etc.

Ann - I know what you mean about horse, stable door and bolted. And diet is only one part of the puzzle. Plenty of people with unimpeachable eating habits develop this disease and the opposite is also true!

I think a good diet will sustain you better you through whatever treatment you may have. And I think a bad diet increases our risk of getting cancer, rather than a good one reducing it, if you see what I mean…it’s that other end of the telescope thing again…

But eating is also one of life’s pleasures - or it should be, so for me it’s a case of trying to have everything in moderation. I think excluding too many foodstuffs just makes you miserable. And treats are good for the morale.



Hi Ann

I’m allergic to lactose and had soya as an alternative and when I got told I had breast cancer that was er+ I worried about what I should do re soya and all the stuff recently about not having it. Well my Consultant and Oncologist said that there is no firm decision either way yet and that they could only refer me to the various studies made so that I could make my own informed decision but that they felt within reason would be okay to continue. I read all the studies I could find (legitemate ones not general internet stuff) and I decided I would go with the French study results that said 3 to 4 servings a week was perfectly safe. Subsiquently the hospital dietician has looked in to this for me and she came back and said 4 normal servings a week would be fine.

All very confusing isn’t it.


Hi there is a whole section on soy in the book I mentioned. The book is about cancer in general but there is some stuff about the oestrogen breast cancers, tamoxifen interactions etc, and mentions the controversy about study results that seem in conflict. Their conclusion seems to be that in moderation soy is OK.

As for ‘treats’ - strawberries, dark chocolate and red wine are on all the cancer fighting food list, yum!

Thanks for your thoughts, everyone.

Katie - Thanks. Makes me feel better about the little soya I do have.

Bahons2 - I tend to agree. I can’t help thinking that changing to a different diet and having to cook different things for the family would just make life more difficult at a very difficult time. I don’t think I have the energy. This thing is turning our lives upside down as it is.

gardenbeetle - I like the idea of the treats you mentioned.

Ann xx

Ok, i’ve just read a few of the posts under this title and now starting to panic! I have soya milk in tea and coffee and soya and linseed cereal every morning. Are we not supposed to have soya then? I know nothing about this at all!!!

loopy xxx

This seems to be a very confusing topic! I was under the impression that if you have oestrogen pos bc then to avoid dairy therefore use Soya instead. Even my bcn suggested this. I am currently trying to sort out my diet so can someone enlighten me please.

Chris x

My cancer is is oestrogen pos too but no-one has ever mentioned avoiding soya!! think we need seem real clarification now otherwise this could scare people!

Loopy xx

I think that soya contains isoflavones which have oestrogen-like properties, hence they are useful for menopausal symptoms. I understood that hormone-receptive bc patients should avoid these. I am no expert, but it is just what I have read.

I didn’t know I was supposed to avoid dairy, though. Why is this - hormones in cows’ milk? There won’t be anything left to eat, soon!


Hi.I found this on the Cancer research site,hope it helps.

best wishes Mel xx

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Specific cancers : Breast cancer : About breast cancer : Diet and preventing breast cancer
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Dietary factors and breast cancer
This page tells you what we know about individual dietary factors in relation to breast cancer. You can find information about

Soya foods and other phyto-oestrogens
Calories, obesity and breast cancer
Food additives
Alcohol and breast cancer
Coffee and breast cancer

Soya foods and other phyto-oestrogens
Phyto-oestrogens are chemicals found in plant foods (phyto means ‘plant’). They have a similar structure to the female sex hormone oestrogen. There are different types of phyto-oestrogens. Some are found in soya bean products (isoflavones). Others are found in the fibre of whole grains, fruit, vegetables and flax seed (lignans). Milk may also contain phyto-oestrogens, but this depends on what the cows have been eating!

The main type of phyto-oestrogens in the Western diet is lignans. Research into the effect of lignans on breast cancer risk was conflicting. So in 2009 researchers looked at all the studies that had been done. They found that in women who had had their menopause, high levels of lignin in the diet slightly reduced their breast cancer risk. It had no effect for premenopausal women though. But the researchers say that more studies are needed to confirm these results.

A joint study was reported in July 2002 by Cancer Research UK, the National Cancer Institute of the USA and the National University of Singapore. It found that women with a soya-rich diet had breast tissue which was less dense than women with low soya diets. Higher density of breast tissue has been linked to a higher risk of breast cancer. This is the first study to directly link eating soya with an effect on breast tissue. A meta-analysis, combining the results of lots of separate studies, found that Asian women who eat the highest amounts of soy foods have a lower risk of breast cancer. In other parts of the world, most women do not eat enough soy to reduce their risk of breast cancer,

Further research has since seemed to show that that women whose diets are high in soya phyto-oestrogens have a lower risk of breast cancer. But more research is needed to confirm this. In some studies, eating phyto-oestrogens (soya flour and linseed supplements) regularly over several weeks reduced oestrogen levels. One of the active ingredients in soya is isoflavone and this chemical mimics oestrogen and reduces the effect of human oestrogen in the body. High levels of human oestrogen can increase breast cancer risk.

Calories, obesity and breast cancer
Obese women who have had their menopause are more likely to get breast cancer. We do not know exactly why this is, although there are some theories. ‘Obese’ means more than about 25% overweight.

The increase in cancer risk in obese women may be due to changed hormone levels. Populations of women at higher risk of getting breast cancer are often found to have higher oestrogen levels than populations with lower breast cancer risk. After the menopause, oestrogen is changed into its active form in the body fat. So obese postmenopausal women could have higher oestrogen levels and so have a higher risk of breast cancer.

Before menopause, being overweight can slightly lower the risk of breast cancer but increases the risk of other illnesses such as diabetes and heart disease. Look at the section on definite risk factors for breast cancer for more information.

Food additives
Many things come under the general heading of food additives including

Curatives (used to make bacon, ham, corned beef etc)
There is no research to suggest that food additives increase the risk of breast cancer. Most food additives actually help reduce the risk of cancer, for example, by stopping food going mouldy .

There has been concern about saccharine in the past. But it has not been shown to cause cancers in people, only in laboratory animals. Even so, in the food industry other sweeteners have mostly replaced it.

We have included this because it gets a lot of press coverage from time to time. Some people are concerned about pesticide use and breast cancer risk. But there is no reliable evidence that pesticides cause breast cancer. Most studies have found that they do not increase cancer risk. But an American report in 2008 found that exposure to the pesticide DDT (dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane) early in life may increase breast cancer risk. DDT is no longer used but it was widely used in 1950’s to 70’s.

Alcohol and breast cancer
We know that drinking alcohol increases breast cancer risk. Researchers have recently shown that the more we drink, the higher the increase in risk. There is detailed information about alcohol and breast cancer risk in this section.

Why not keep a check on your alcohol intake for a week?
Find out if your drinking is within the recommended safe levels
for your health. Women should drink a maximum of 14 units per week
and men 21 units per week. A unit is one small glass of wine,
a measure of spirits or half a pint of average strength beer.

Coffee and breast cancer
We have included information about coffee because it gets a lot of press coverage from time to time. A lot of research has looked into coffee drinking and cancer risk. Breast cancer is one of the cancers investigated. But studies have found no evidence that coffee can increase the risk of breast cancer.

Cancer Research UK
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Last updated 24 April 2009

CancerHelp UK is not designed to provide medical advice or professional services and is intended to be for educational use only. The information provided through CancerHelp UK is not a substitute for professional care and should not be used for diagnosing or treating a health problem or a disease. If you have, or suspect you may have, a health problem you should consult your doctor.

Copyright Cancer Research UK 2002
Cancer Research UK Charity Number 1089464

Thanks for that, Mel.

I am totally confused about it now, though. The article seems to be mainly about prevention but what happens if you already have it?


It is all too confusing isn’t it.Dont eat this, do this, do that.I sometimes now think it’s all a load of ----cks.I do drink green tea though and WAS avoiding anything with soya in as I was told this could increase risk,but I dont bother now.When my mum had B.C many years ago she was advised to stop eating cheese and to not use talc and to stay out of the sun(what was that all about)didn’t help her though.

best wishes Mel x

I agree with Mel it’s all too confusing! we’ll end up not eating or drinking anything in the end!!

Which in my case might not be a bad thing as I have managed to put on a stone since starting chemo treatment - despite eating healthily! I’m going to look like a fish soon - I eat loads of it in a bid to try and keep the weight down but not much seems to be helping!!


Just found this:-


I agree about not knowing what to do, hence my original post. You can read anything to support or refute anything, like statistics can be used to prove or disprove anything!

My Mum had hormone-receptive but had never taken any hormones. I have been on the pill/HRT most of my life and I too have hormone-receptive bc. Who can say what the cause was - genes, maybe? In that case, it probably doesn’t make much difference what I eat!