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Frequently Asked Questions


I have read conflicting reports on the benefits vs. the dangers of tamoxifen for breast cancer treatment. Have you found better nutritional alternatives? I have had surgery, chemo & radiation for breast cancer. Tamoxifen for 5 yrs. is next but I'm not comfortable with it.

This is a very good question. Unfortunately, I am not aware of any human studies directly comparing various nutritional strategies against the use of tamoxifen after breast cancer. So there is no way to answer your question with any clinical data.

There is a very preliminary small human study showing that ingestion of 25 grams of ground flaxmeal per day with newly diagnosed post-menopausal ER+ breast cancer decreases biological markers of tumor growth the same amount as tamoxifen during the time period between diagnosis and surgery. Tamoxifen treatment was not compared directly to flaxmeal in this study. The data are compared from two separate studies. In addition, this is such as small and early study that no recommendations for treatment can be made based on these data. Much larger and longer head-to-head clinical trial studies in women would need to be done to offer this as a treatment option.

Please thoroughly discuss the pros and cons of tamoxifen with your oncologist (get second and third opinions, too if you wish from doctors who received their oncology training from different medical centers) before you make your decision. All of life is a trade-off of risks and benefits. No answer is ever perfect on all accounts. You will know what is right for you. My advice is to obtain as much information as you can so that your decision is an *informed* decision, not an *emotional* decision. When you arrive at your decision, believe in it with 1000% conviction! :-)

The reference for the data discussed in this response is as follows:

"Biological Effects of Dietary Flaxseed in Patients with Breast Cancer." Abstract from the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium - December 2000, Thompson LU, Li T, Chen J, Goss PE Nutritional Sciences, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada; Medical Oncology, Princess Margaret Hospital, Toronto, ON, Canada


Back to Main QandA Page

Breast Cancer

Breast Cancer Is soy safe to consume for women with ER+ breast cancer? posted 4/01, updated 1/05
Breast Cancer Is there any new information for breast cancer patients who have ER+ tumors regarding the safety of eating soy foods? posted 2/02
Breast Cancer I am currently taking Tamoxifen. My daughter heard on TV that I should be eating soy to make it work more efficiently. Do you know of any studies verifying this information? posted 5/01, updated 1/05
Breast Cancer I have read conflicting reports on the benefits vs. the dangers of Tamoxifen for breast cancer treatment. Have you found better nutritional alternatives?
Breast Cancer Should women with ER+ breast cancer avoid flaxseeds and flax oil that contain the phytoestrogens called lignans?
Breast Cancer Is weight gain common during breast cancer treatments? posted 8/00
Breast Cancer What are some good breast cancer web sites? posted 4/04
Breast Cancer Are there any foods I should avoid while taking Tamoxifen? posted 6/04
Breast Cancer Does moderate alcohol consumption have a harmful effect on persons who have had breast cancer? posted 11/04
Breast Cancer Should I be avoiding all caffeine to help fight my breast cancer?
posted 11/04


These questions and answers are intended to be of a general informative nature. Please consult with the Registered Dietitian in your cancer center or your health care provider for nutritional advice that can be individualized to your specific medical condition.

Contact Information:
Phone/Fax: 734/996-9260

P.O. Box 130221, Ann Arbor, MI  48113

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