I couldn't agree with you more Chirpy! In that if you think about how many women *do* eat dairy (my mother and late grandmother, for example) and DO NOT develop BC-it cannot possibly be that dairy is such an important predisposing factor. Studies would have to demonstrate that dairy is an important contributing factor (for certain women)-with other predisposing factors, before we can really take this "opinion" as fact.
Sorry to hear you had such a stressful year prior to your diagnosis. I have no doubt that stress plays a part, and am sure it did for me too. xxx
Hello Chirpy Bird
I agree with what Maria has said; it is important to take note that many on this forum have eliminated/severely reduced dairy products from their diets for many years yet have still ended up with ER +ve BC. If there really were a significant connection between BC and dairy products, this would not be happening.
You say 'it might be worth not taking the risk' of consuming dairy products if you are highly ER +ve. There is not, as yet, any reliable evidence for a link between British or EU dairy produce and breast cancer, so there is no acknowledged risk. If any breast cancer patient were to cut out dairy produce, simply because they believed they were cutting down the risk of BC, they could be subjecting themselves to a much higher risk of severe osteoporosis and serious health problems re bone health (especially if they were taking endocrine therapy), as well as developing other health problems related to an unbalanced diet.
Here is some reliable information from Cancer Research UK.
Milk and Dairy Products
Milk and dairy are good sources of calcium and protein which are needed as part of a healthy, balanced diet. Calcium is important for teeth and bone health.
Studies looking into the link between cancer and dairy products have not given clear results. There is evidence that dairy products could reduce the risk of bowel cancer, but we cannot say for sure that this is the case. There is no strong evidence linking dairy products to any other types of cancer. We need further research to find out more about the links between dairy products and cancer risk.
Hormones in milk
In some countries, a hormone called bovine somatotrophin (BST) is used to speed up or increase the production of milk or meat. In the UK and the rest of Europe, farmers are banned from using this hormone, and the import of meat from countries, including the US, where this hormone is used is also banned. This ban is on animal welfare grounds and not because there is any proven effect on human health. Independent health bodies including the European Union Scientific Committee have reviewed the evidence on BST and found it does not pose any harm to human health.
The Food Standards Agency regulates the content of dairy products, including milk. This set of standards makes sure these products are safe to use.
The natural hormones produced by cows, sheep and goats are not a threat to humans. Our threat comes from the oestrogen we produce ourselves which, post menopausally, comes from our fat cells, hence the importance of taking Aromatase Inhibitors, or Tamoxifen (which has a different action from the AIs).
There is plenty of evidence that cancer is a serious risk to people who are obese, drink too much alcohol and smoke.
Eat a balanced diet without overdoing anything, keep your weight down, take regular exercise, keep your spirits up with some sensible treats, and remember a very great deal is down to chance.
Apologies for "chirping in" but I think the point is that even those of us who *are* ER + and who *have* been dairy free (completely dairy-free-no cheating) for 8+ years, have still developed ER+ BC. And so, for me, I can't see how my dairy-free diet has helped me in any way. I do believe though that for each of us, there are a combo. of factors that predispose us to developing BC, and for me, I think it was my iodine treatment and stress, and clearly my dairy-free diet has not served as a protective mechanism against the disease.
I hear you loud and clear and I agree that having " a bit of yoghurt or milk from time to time" DOES NOT mean "dairy-free" I *am* completely dairy-free. I check labels. I don't eat yoghurt. I don't eat ice cream. I eat Alpro (soya based) and vegan "ice-cream". I eat vegan cheese. I don't eat goat's, sheep's, cow's...anything. I don't do animal. I do eat eggs.
I am genuinely dairy-free, which is why I am not convinced of the link between dairy and cancer, but more importantly, I agree that there are a multitude of contribting factors, that might vary-woman to woman. I, too, think stress has played a part in my development of the disease, but most definitely the iodine treatment I had (there is an established link between radioactive iodine treatment for the thyroid and the long-term development of cancer)-not specific to thyroid, but any kind of cancer.
Hi Marla just out of interest when you say you have not had dairy since 2010 is that completely? I am just wondering as milk is in absolutely everything and unless everyone looks carefully at food labels we are still consuming it without realising. I know someone who said she had cut out dairy but still had yoghurt everyday but because she wasn't drinking cows milk she thought that was enough. Some people still continue to eat ice cream or cheese it is still dairy. It is a minefield and very difficult none of us know for sure what caused the cancer and it is very difficult to know what diet we should be following to help prevent a recurrence. I have cut down drastically on my dairy intake but I watch everything else I eat and am mostly plant based with small amount of meat and fish. I have a dog so exercise and walk more than I ever did but I also think stress plays a huge part especially in my diagnosis. I was extremely stressed in the run up to my diagnosis and have looked at ways to address that since. Cancer is never due to one thing and we need to all look at all parts of our lives in general x
I find this "to dairy or not to dairy" debate so interesting, because as someone who was recently diagnosed with BC Grade 2, Estrogen +, and who has not eaten dairy since 2010, and has not eaten meat since 1983, I cannot see how my diet has helped *at all*. I eat *a lot* of fish.
I realise 2010 is not that long ago but am quite confident I've not had my cancer (undiagnosed) since then-but of course one can never be sure.
I *am*, however, more confident that the radioactive iodine that I had for my thyroid disorder (2010) has played more of a role in my BC than anything else. We do not have a family history of BC.
Since my thyroid treatment I've put on 20 pounds. I'm on Levothyroxine but it does not give me the same energy levels as my normal thyroid gland did. It's a farce. It does not replace (like for like) what your thyroid gland did-your thyroid is the petrol in a car. Without it, you don't move. You feel sluggish, no energy, etc. etc. Exercise is more difficult and I can't do the workouts I used to be able to. It's absolutely awful. I was a size 8-10 in 2006, I'm now a 12-14. And it's not because I eat crap or drink excessively-I eat really well with the occasional treat and rarely drink alcohol.
From all the postings I've read it would seem that the most consistently agreed upon fact is the role that exercise and a healthy weight plays. And presumably a good diet goes hand in hand with weight loss-whatever the diet is.
I'm not a doctor, but am someone who lives with thyroid disease managed by a drug that is supposed to help boost my metabolism and is absolutely useless.
Speaking as a scientist myself, there is an absolute load of rubbish on the Internet of a pseudo-scientific nature. 'Researching the Internet' is likely to lead you to an overload of misinformation and some very poor decisions.
For instance, there is absolutely no reliable evidence that dairy products are bad for you if you are ER +ve. On the contrary; you need sources of Ca for bone strength. No link between breast cancer and dairy products has been found by any reliable scientific group. You will find plenty of sites where claims are made that it does, but if you assess these sites carefully, you will find no supporting evidence of a reliable nature. You will also find that the authors of such sites are not, themselves, bona fide research scientists, attached to reputable universities.
If you want to restrict your diet that is your business, but please be aware you could be omitting foods that would be good for you, so damaging your health. By posting spurious 'research' advice here you could be encouraging other people to worry unnecessarily and to have false confidence in highly misleading information.
I'm 62 years young, very active, walking 10 mile hill walks once a week, dancing modern jive once a month, walk into town and back every other day, 5 miles and not in anyway over weight. I've never smoked and very rarly drink, bit boring really. But doing all this did not prevent me from having a TIA ten years ago and getting breast cancer, grade 2 invasive, ER+3 this year.
I've spent hours reaserching on different foods and on the hormone treatment after surgery.
I've read the research done in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, America and the UK on diet and hormone treatment and at the moment this is the conclusion they all seem to have in common, to a degree.
The jury is still out on soya producing oestrogen. Tests on rats and mice are showing a slight risk of dairy producing oestrogen and a very slight risk of cancer sells growing quicker. We are not rats and mice and there are still ongoing investigations with cancer volunteers regarding both soya and oestrogen.
I've taken myself off soya and dairy, so my body has a chance, but this is my own decision and I would not want anyone else to think this is right or wrong for them.
I now drink Oaty milk which I love and rice milk. Eat goat cheese, in very small quantities and the same with goat yogurt. Eat lots of green veg and have cut back a lot on potatoes. There is some research into Flax seed that shows it inhibits the cancer cells from feeding on oestrogen and also with the herb Ashwaganda, which I've been taking. The Flax seed in powder powder form is more suitable than the seed itself, the seed passing through the body. I only eat chicken and fish now and have a lot more fruit, also make my own veg smoothies to drink.
I have decided, after researching, not to have the hormone treatment, now, or ever, if changing what I eat and what supplements I take gives me a chance of preventing the cancer coming back, for a few more years, I'm prepared to try, but I have no illusions, at some time it will return, regardless if I have hormone treatment or not. The main thing is to think and feel positive about what you decide and positivity will help in a big way.
I'd say, don't take the word of anyone, until you have spent hours researching and it's not a case of one size fits all.
I found this online which refers to man boobs. It is interesting:
More recent research shows that dairy isn’t as good for our bones as we are led to believe and can actually cause our bones to leak more calcium, vegetables especially greens and exercise are better for us.
It's worth bearing in mind that if you're ER+ and on Anastrozole, dairy will help avoid osteoporosis...
Congratulations Fairy Dust, that’s great news, well done you! Even though I ate well before, especially compared to what I see other people eat, there’s no way I would change what I do now even if I was told they got my diagnosis wrong, because I also feel so much better! That’s really fantastic about the chemo, while I don’t think you can truly say until you’re faced with the decision, I know I wouldn’t automatically say yes to it either, would want to try other more natural remedies first and see what happened, then at least if I had to have it I would know I’d tried everything else first. Also, good to hear that from the doctor! I’m really happy for you, all the very best to you, Kate xx
That's amazing, Kate.
I got my post op results on Friday and they were the best news I've had in 6 months. I had 2 invasive ductal carcinomas, 1grade 1 and 1grade 2 and a large area of DCIS. The mastectomy took it all, but on examination, the grade 2 area has disappeared!!! The Oncotype test came back low as well so no chemo. I'm so pleased I changed my diet. It was 6 months from them finding it to them taking it out. I took letrizole for three weeks just before the op as they realised I'd had no treatment. The doc said that wouldn't have worked that quick and asked me what I'd been doing.
Good news, yes but there's no way I'm ever going back to how I ate before. The benefits have been too great. Good wishes Kate xxx
This matrix suggests some risk associated with dairy and breast cancer. I think it isn't just oestrogen it's also IGF-1 and cholesterol risk which are bad for cancer. https://wcrf.org/dietandcancer/interactive-cancer-risk-matrix
I quit dairy as soon as I was diagnosed, over a year ago.
Good point Daisy. If only it were as simple as just cutting out dairy. Having said that I do think there is a connection to dairy and I have cut down on it a lot since I was diagnosed but breast cancer is complicated and there are so many other contributing factors. I do know of other women who have been dairy free and still developed breast cancer. As Jane Plant said in her book it is a bit like a slot machine where the 3 lemons have to line up. After a cancer diagnosis it is good to look at all areas of your life. Diet is only one part x
I've been dairy free practically all my life. Not a lifestyle choice or anything, I just can't stand the taste of milk, cheese, cream. I haven't got a particularly sweet tooth, so don't really go for chocolate. (I'm no saint, if you try and share my crisps or myy wine, I will plot your untimely demise )
And I still ended up with Oestrogen positive breast cancer. Just saying.
Hi Fairy Dust, what an inspiring post to read, I fully endorse everything you’ve said! I was diagnosed straight to stage4, October 2015, had gone for results on my own as nobody thought it was anything to worry about and they only did the biopsy to put my mind at rest!! Anyway, I immediately gave up,all processed sugar and initially fruit apart from berries and medjoul dates...do eat more fruit now. I’d used organic milk for years but changed to goats milk in my daily or twice daily cuppas, otherwise plant or nut milks. Never been much of a meat eater but now have a plant based diet but do eat organic eggs and wild fish occasionally, and even more rarely grass fed organic lamb or chicken. As time went on upped the exercise and made myself go to bed earlier, as I was a real night owl! February 16, even before I’d really started on the exercise, and I wasn’t sleeping well at all during those early days following diagnosis, my scan was NED and ‘touch wood’ has remained that way. I now take some researched supplements which my Onc is okay with. Like you I don’t think lifestyle changes will cure me but I do strongly believe they make a difference. Sadly there will always be healthy eating gym bunnies who get cancer but who knows what stress they had in their lives, as there are so many contributing factors. Interesting what you’ve said about HRT, I never had it but have had very few side effects from Letrozole and believe eating an organic, unprocessed diet has helped with this. My Oncologist is lovely and very easy to talk to, while hasn’t endorsed my diet, has asked me what I do, and never told me to stop either! Wishing you well, Kate x
I know my post was long enough, but forgot to say I've cut out meat and only eat wild fish.
I have discovered coconut milk mocha as a treat though! Decaf coffee, dark coco powder and coconut milk. It's like drinking bounty bars!!
“Those who think they have no time for healthy eating will sooner or later have to find time for illness.”
– Edward Stanley (1826-1893)
"Let food be thy medicine and thy medicine your food" Hypocrates (the father of medicine)
Our actual medical doctors know next to nothing about nutrition. They receive no significant training during their medical education!
I am not one who believes that diet alone will cure this. There are many people who exercise and have excellent diets and yet still get this. I do, however, believe we can all improve our diets to help us through this, whatever stage we are at, and any improvement is better than none.
Personally I've removed processed food (if I need a science degree to read the label I don't want to eat it), dairy, refined sugars and refined carbohydrates. I did this within a couple of days of diagnosis (6 months ago). Anything I eat feeds by body. If it doesn't it doesn't go in. I really don't feel I'm missing out on anything and I am appreciating thevtastes and textures of what I eat now.
One thing I will say though, is that I was really worried about stopping the HRT I was on. I had only been on it a few months, but it had made a huge difference to me. I had finally got me back after 5years if struggling along without. If I tried to stretch the patches out for longer so I was taking less, I and those around me could tell the difference, so I was dreading the return of the symptoms as well as dealing with this ordeal. Well my diet change was exactly at the same time as stopping HRT and I have not returned to the severe symptoms I suffered before. Yes I get hot flushes, but they are the least of my worries. I've also lost 4 1/2 stone. So, even if it doesn't help rid me of cancer, my diet change has helped me to feel fitter and healthier than I have for many years, meaning I'm in a better place to cope with all this @#$%@#$&.
Interesting posts as I’m just deciding what to do about dairy and full fat or low fat which often has extra sugar.
I had a nice chat with my nurse about it and she said the jury is out on this one. She also said that research is still being undertaken on this subject and there is no conclusive evidence to date that you should avoid dairy. Jane Plant's books are interesting and I believe she battle BC 6 times over 20 years, so she is worth researching and you can come to your own conclusion.
My nurse added it is your choice and advised a healthy diet with lots of fruit and vegetables and all the usual health advice lean meat if you are a meat eater etc. Maybe don't go too overboard on dairy if you are skeptical and if you do try goat's it has less oestrogen in it. There are so many tasty plant alternatives now that you can find substitutes to satisfy your taste for it and as long as you are good 90% of the time you can indulge in your favourite dairy products from time-to-time. Vegans do have a lower risk of recurrence apparently, but that could be linked to vegan diets often being low-fat. I personally think keeping up healthy eating and having a few treats now and again is the way forward with it. Exercise and try and keep a sensible lifestyle. I would be miserable 100% vegan, so I am going 80% and eating fish and occasional dairy products. The choice is individual.
Thanks to everyone for your replies. I have bought Jane Plant's book and I have also started looking at the website mentioned below. Agree entirely that it is a quality of life thing - there are certain things I am not prepared to do without! - but if there is anything I can do to reduce the chances of my unwelcome visitor returning, then I will do it.
For the past 9 months myself & OH have changed our diet following his diagnosis of diabetes and we have both lost about 2 stone. We eat very few carbs and those we do eat are vegetable based largely. We eat plenty of fish, meat, eggs and dairy products and both now have much lower cholesterol and blood pressure. We have also been walking 4-5 miles a day too. I have a Fitbit to keep track of my steps.
i personally love dairy and eat a fair amount of plain Greek yoghurt, it would affect my quality of life to stop doing that, so unless I see compelling evidence to the contrary I will continue to do so. We all have to do what we feel is right for us.
It's ok, I've replied, best not to ignore a call for help, just makes for anxiety! X
Ladymondegreen, the web site is called 'Foodforbreastcancer.com'. I found the info very helpful. I'm a month into using Letrozole and hoping the advice on this site will help with SE's.
I didn't follow a diet as such, but used the Leon cookbooks to increase my intake of fruit and veg, and reduce the amount of protein . I've also changed my carb intake, using quinoa and other superfoods instead of rice and pasta. I borrowed a lovely book from Maggie's library called ' The Living Well with Cancer Cookbook'. The recipes are not just for BC , but are excellent, as is the information from the people who wrote it. The Royal Marsden Cancer Cookbook is another favourite with great recipes for every stage of cancer. Loads of info in this book about nutrition. Of course foods and diet is all very personal, so good luck. X
Two other sites worth looking at are canceractive.com and marnieclark.com both are very informative with up to date research x
Can you link to the interactive site you mention re aromatise inhibitors advise on food? Or let us know the name of the site?
I find the Mediterranean 'diet' a bit confusing - did you follow a specific diet plan on a general one? Well done on losing 20lbs. I would like to do the same.
Is it true that I have to maintain a consistant weight whilst doing radiotherapy?
Breast Cancer Care have procused information regarding myths around breast cancer
Digital Community Officer
Indeed - people trying to be "helpful" with their suggestions can be rather insensitive! None of us has brought this on ourselves or can hold ourselves responsible if it comes back. So, the latest advice i have been told by the hospital nutritionist is that they now think soy, flax and other plantstuffs containing phytoestrogens actually help prevent BC and you should eat them! My oncologist basically said he can't see eating tofu once a week and a drop of soy milk in tea making any difference either way. He does say, however, that eating a plant-based low-fat wholefood Mediterranean diet (by which, sadly, he does not mean pizza) has been shown to reduce risk slightly. I am still drinking milk but skimmed, and organic where possible. The consistent advice i have had from all the consultants is that exercise and keeping weight under control are the only things which evidence shows may actually reduce risk, and even then of course we are talking about a small statistical reduction in a large group of people - for some people it may make no difference at all.
My rather extreme reaction was not to the dairy thing, I hope you realise, but to the fact that someone who (presumably) does not have cancer found it necessary to heap guilt on someone who has, by saying that eating or not eating something might change it. I have nothing against skipping dairy, if it's true, and if it makes you feel better. I hadn't actually heard that, but I have also been reading up. Most of the articles are trying to add estrogen though, and the only thing I've read consistently across most articles is that soy is not good, so it makes you wonder.
So, rosietd, I'm on YOUR side, and don't care about the dairy.
Thanks everyone for your comments. I intend to have a good read, so as to understand it more fully.
As I see it, if there is anything at all that I can do to reduce my risk, then I will do it.
Hi, I'm with you on this. I'm also oestrogen positive and after reading up about it, and talking to a nutritionist I'm doing two things. Losing weight so there's less oestrogen in my body , and changing my diet to reduce the intake of foods containing oestrogen and increase the intake of fruit and veg. ( so perhaps that's three things!?) I'm also on Letrozole which inhibits the production of oestrogen. There's a great interactive site on aromatise inhibitors advising on foods and saying what each one does. I've saved it on my favourites. I've managed to lose 20lbs so far by adopting a more Mediterranean diet, and reducing the amount of red meat I eat. Didn't eat beef anyway, but I do eat loads more fish - not battered!! I'm very happy with the changes I've made, enjoy my food more and feel better for the weight loss. I think you should read up on it and then make up your own mind. X
Hi rosie you may find reading Jane Plants book "your life in your hands" helpful. It makes interesting reading and then it may help you make your own mind up. I guess it's good to keep a balanced view as not everyone will agree with what she has to say but it's worth a look. I personally have drastically cut down on dairy as I believe we shouldn't be putting any extra oestrogen in our bodies which is naturally in dairy produce x
Some on here have done this, but it's good to be sceptical about any claims.
When it comes down to it, healthy eating, being active, any alcohol in moderation & maintaining a healthy weight is where it's at.
For further info cancer myths from Cancer Research UK is a helpful read.
geeeez.... every time I read that your friend mentioned cutting out dairy I nearly have apoplexy. Whatever that is. How dare she?????????
Geeeeezzzz........ Ah! let me find a dog to kick!
Firstly, some friends are too much effort.
Secondly, I don't know how much estrogen is in dairy, but my husband works on a dairy farm, milking cows, and contrary to popular belief they are not fed hormones to produce milk. Any estrogen will be naturally occurring.
So... thirdly.. I would suggest discussing this with an oncologist, or maybe even your BCN might have ideas. I am going to lose drastic amounts of weight because I am "very obese" and I believe my very own fat is contributing to estrogen, and any reduction of my weight can only be good for me.
My tumour was ER+ and a friend has mentioned that I might want to consider cutting out dairy, as it contains oestrogen. Does anyone have any experience / knowledge on this? I am happy to do everything I can to reduce my risk of recurrence.