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Vitamins and Supplements to Reduce Breast Cancer Risk

Question:
Are there vitamins or supplements that can reduce my risk of breast cancer? Do any increase cancer risk?
Supplements & Breast Cancer Risk -- doctor holding pink breast cancer awareness ribbon
Answer:
There is not enough evidence to support the use of a particular vitamin or supplement to reduce the risk of breast cancer. However, associations have been found between intake of certain foods and food-based nutrients, such as omega-3 fatty acids, extra virgin olive oil, vitamin C from foods, and others, and a reduced risk of breast cancer and/or breast cancer survivial. On the other hand, there is concern that certain foods, such as cow's milk, may increase the risk of breast cancer.  Sign in to see the full answer >>

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COMMENTS

Jeanette19123   March 2, 2020
I'm wondering if organic or grass-fed cow's milk was considered in the above study. Cows from CAFO's (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations - where 99% of our dairy comes from) are given hormones and antibiotics, which could contribute to breast cancer.

ConsumerLab.com   March 2, 2020
Hi Jeanette - That study was based on a tens of thousands of people in the U.S. and Canada, so the vast majority of the milk was likely not from grass-fed cow's milk.

Patricia19122   March 1, 2020
Regarding the study of 50,000 women in the "Cow's milk" paragraph: what could account for the different outcome when milk is cultured (i.e., yogurt and cheese)?
The microbes to culture milk use up all or most of the sugar lactose I suppose, but does the study imply that the microbes metabolize and change the hormones or simply absorb them? That's all I can think of, but surely that would be mentioned or studied or something...?

Just yesterday I bought a gallon of milk to supplement the calcium supplements. Now I guess I'll turn all of it into yogurt rather than the half of it I had planned -- the same milk magically transformed from dangerous to harmless by probiotics. I wonder if anyone has ever added estradiol to probiotics just to see what happens. Of course estradiol's human; maybe acidophilus only goes for bovine hormones, who knows.

I'm grateful I don't need to give up yogurt and cheese! I love cheese!

Anyway I find the results weird (like many things in life) and I'm very curious if anyone here has a clue what happens to hormones with the culturing.

Olivia19121   March 1, 2020
If participants in the studies on milk consumption and breast cancer were drinking conventional non-organic milk, it doesn't seem surprising that they would have increased risk of breast cancer. Conventionally produced milk comes from cows treated with recombinant bovine growth hormone, and this milk contains some RBGH along with traces of whatever pesticides were in what the cows were fed. The European Union refused for decades to take American milk containing RBGH, believing, on evidence, that it is a cancer risk. (They may still outlaw it, but am not sure; possibly they may have been pushed into allowing such milk to be sold there, through NAFTA or some other means.)

LYNN19119   March 1, 2020
Total confusion about yogurt on my part now because of this recent article from Science Daily, below. Can you clarify. Should breast cancer survivors eat yogurt or not?

"One of the causes of breast cancer may be inflammation triggered by harmful bacteria say researchers.

Scientists say their idea- as yet unproven -- is supported by the available evidence, which is that bacterial induced inflammation is linked to cancer.

The paper in the journal Medical Hypotheses is by Lancaster University medical student Auday Marwaha, Professor Jim Morris from the University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Trust and Dr Rachael Rigby from Lancaster University's Faculty of Health and Medicine.

The researchers say that: "There is a simple, inexpensive potential preventive remedy; which is for women to consume natural yoghurt on a daily basis."

Yoghurt contains beneficial lactose fermenting bacteria commonly found in milk, similar to the bacteria -- or microflora- found in the breasts of mothers who have breastfed.

Dr Rigby said: "We now know that breast milk is not sterile and that lactation alters the microflora of the breast.

"Lactose fermenting bacteria are commonly found in milk and are likely to occupy the breast ducts of women during lactation and for an unknown period after lactation."

Their suggestion is that this lactose fermenting bacteria in the breast is protective because each year of breast feeding reduces the risk of breast cancer by 4.3%.

Several other studies have shown that the consumption of yoghurt is associated with a reduction in the risk of breast cancer, which the researchers suggest may be due to the displacement of harmful bacteria by beneficial bacteria.

The researchers conclude that: "The stem cells which divide to replenish the lining of the breast ducts are influenced by the microflora, and certain components of the microflora have been shown in other organs, such as the colon and stomach, to increase the risk of cancer development.

"Therefore a similar scenario is likely to be occurring in the breast, whereby resident microflora impact on stem cell division and influence cancer risk."


A.K. Marwaha, J.A. Morris, R.J. Rigby. Hypothesis: Bacterial induced inflammation disrupts the orderly progression of the stem cell hierarchy and has a role in the pathogenesis of breast cancer. Medical Hypotheses, 2020; 136: 109530 DOI: 10.1016/j.mehy.2019.109530"

Candace17221   October 7, 2018
Alcohol can increase the risk of breast cancer because it increases estrogen. Soy may also be in that category. Yearly mammograms increase the chance of early detection. Don't miss getting them. Stage 1 is much more treatable than Stage 2 and above and 1/8 of all women get breast cancer.

Keely17223   October 8, 2018
Technically alcohol increases estrogen because the liver is what removes both alcohol and estrogen. The more you drink, the less effective your liver becomes at removing the estrogen from our bodies - which can cause an imbalance in levels, which can increase your risk of breast cancer. It's good to get your hormone levels checked regardless of if you drink or not as there are MANY things that can cause imbalances. Once you get them in check, your risk decreases tremendously (unless you have the BRCA gene). And yes, GET YOUR MAMMOGRAMS. #breastcancersurvivor


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This CL Answer initially posted on 10/17/2017. Last updated 2/29/2020.
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