Expert Q&A

Breast Cancer: Best Foods After Diagnosis

What types of foods should I eat if I have breast cancer? Are there any foods I should avoid?

-Alicia from Washington

Diet plays an important role in cancer prevention and treatment. It is very important for women diagnosed with breast cancer to pay attention to their diets and eat a wide variety of foods. During and after cancer treatment, it is recommended to:

  • Eat at least 5 servings of fruits or vegetables everyday. Eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables provides necessary fiber and antioxidants.

  • Replace white or processed carbohydrates with whole grain varieties to increase B vitamins and fiber.
  • Eat 2-3 servings of low fat dairy daily. Cancer treatment may negatively affect bone health, so it is important to incorporate calcium-rich foods into your diet on a regular basis.
  • Incorporate lean meats, poultry, fish, nuts, seeds, legumes, and beans into your meals to ensure an adequate amount of protein in your diet.

If your cancer is estrogen- or progesterone-receptor positive, you may want to avoid soy products in large quantities. While research is currently inconclusive, some studies have shown that soy foods have a phytoestrogenic effect in the body. If your cancer is hormone sensitive, it is important to discuss soy intake with your physician. If you consume alcohol, limit your intake to 1 drink per day. If you do not drink, continue to abstain.

If you are overweight, it is important to lose excess pounds. Limiting junk foods, white or enriched carbohydrates, soda, and juice is a great way to promote weight loss. Daily exercise is also important. Speak with your physician or dietitian for more helpful weight loss tips.

For further information on your diet and cancer see the following articles from TheDietChannel: Cancer Fighting Foods: General Info and New Research: Breast Cancer Low-fat Diet.

Dena McDowell, MS, RD
Contributing Expert

Have a question for our Experts? Send it in!