Triple Negative Breast Cancer
About 15% of all breast cancers are found to be triple-negative. Having a negative test result means that the growth of the tumor is not supported by the hormones estrogen and progesterone, nor by the presence of HER2 receptors. Because of this, triple-negative breast cancers do not respond to the generally prescribed hormonal therapies such as tamoxifen or arimidex, nor to the therapies that target the HER2 receptors such as Herceptin, making them difficult for conventionally-minded doctors to treat. “Triple negative breast cancer does not have these receptors and so much less in known about what makes it grow. Thus, it can be difficult to treat successfully. There are fewer treatment options available – hormone therapy, such as Tamoxifen, and most targeted therapy drugs, like Herceptin, are of no benefit.” Says Dr Emma Pennery, Clinical Director at Breast Cancer Care.
Triple negative breast cancers are most likely to occur in pre-menopausal women aged 40 or 50, and are more common in African-American and Hispanic women, and in those who carry the BRCA1 gene mutation. Triple-negative breast cancers are also more invasive than other forms of breast cancer with tumors that appear to grow more aggressively, seem to spread to other parts of the body faster, and have a tendency to reoccur more often. Because of this, women with triple-negative cancer have lower five-year survival rates than other breast cancer patients, with about 34 percent of treated patients experiencing a distant recurrence within 2.6 years following treatment. Additionally, current treatment models for triple-negative breast cancer are extremely limited, this is because triple negative cancers are considered to be aggressive by conventional standards so they are often treated very aggressively with surgery, radiation therapy, and/or chemotherapy.
Some natural therapies that can be helpful for those with Triple Negative Breast Cancer
- Change your diet and you will change your internal environment: Cancer needs the right type of internal environment to grow and spread. You must eliminate all sugars, processed foods, fast foods, and adopt a whole foods, mostly plant-based diet that includes unlimited amounts of fresh vegetables and fruits, juicing fresh vegetables, making fresh fruit smoothies, a variety of nut and seeds, along with some complex carbohydrates such as sweet potatoes, yams, black rice, and adzuki beans. You should eliminate all dairy products and all red meats because they are inflammatory to the body, but this diet can include some pasture-raised eggs, wild-caught salmon, mackerel, herring, sardines, and anchovies, along with nutrient rich bone broths, a couple of times per week, as needed.
- Fresh vegetables- are some of the most nutrient dense foods that you can eat. Some cancer-fighters include bok choy, broccoli, spinach, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, celery, collard greens, eggplant, green beans, kale, leeks, onion, peppers, radish, scallions, mustard greens, Swiss chard, leafy greens, tomatoes, summer squash, mushrooms, parsnips, sweet potatoes, acorn squash, butternut squash, and green peas, etc.
- Juicing vegetables is a great way to get large servings of them into your body. Read more about juicing
- Raw fruits -contain antioxidants, flavonoids, and anthocyanins that can prevent an reverse cellular damage and reduce overall inflammation. Some powerful fruits to include are: berries such as blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, raspberries, cranberries, grapes, cherries, cantaloupe, watermelon, pineapple, papaya, lemons, limes, oranges, etc, and these can be eaten in unlimited amounts. Fruits are very easily digested, therefore they should be eaten about 1/2 hour before your main meals, or they can easily be blended into nutritious smoothies.
- Blueberries: contain phytochemicals which are plant-derived compounds that have protective or disease preventive properties. In a 2010 study published in the Journal of Cancer Research, researchers discovered that the phytochemicals found in powdered blueberries inhibited the growth and metastatic potential of TNBC cells. Read more about this study
- Nutritious smoothies are a great way to increase your servings of fruits and greens. Read more about smoothies
- Nuts- can include raw almonds, Brazil, hazelnuts, pistachios, macadamia, pecans, cashews, walnuts, and their butters. How to soak and sprout nuts
- Seeds-can include hemp, chia, freshly ground flax, and black sesame. How to soak and sprout seeds
- Fats- cellular membranes are made up of lipids (fats), and the body will use whatever form of fats that you are consuming, even if they are the toxic kind that will clog the cells. These oils include corn, soy, canola, cottonseed, sunflower, grape seed, safflower, vegetable shortening and margarine-type products that contain them. They become rancid very easily when exposed to light, oxygen, and heat, so they must be manufactured, transported, and stored very carefully, but they are not. They form carcinogens and mutagens when exposed to heat, yet we frequently use these same toxic oils in food manufacturing processes, fast food frying, and for high heat cooking at home. A deficiency in the proper lipids can restrict the transfer of oxygen and nutrients into the cells and waste products out of the cells, not allowing the cell to breathe and remove waste as it had before. Saturated fats do not become rancid when exposed to oxygen, light and heat and includes unrefined coconut oil, organic butter and ghee for cooking purposes, while olive, avocado, and MTC oils can be used as finishing oils or for cold uses only.
- Iodine- serves many functions in the body. The immune system can’t function without it and you can’t fight infections without it. But its main job is to maintain the normal architecture of the endocrine glands, these include: the thyroid, breasts, ovaries, uterus, and the prostate, which is where many new cancer cases are occurring. Consider taking a quality iodine supplement such as J.CROW’S® Lugol’s Iodine Solution Adequate iodine supplementation helps the body to produce the hormones that it needs in the proper ratio. Many things can interfere with iodine absorption, including goitrogens, glutens, fluoride, bromide, pesticides, viral infections. Read more about iodine here.
- Selenium- the BRCA1 mutation is associated with having a higher risk for developing triple negative breast cancer. Taking a daily dose of 200 mcg of selenium eliminates the threat that is posed by the BRCA1 mutation putting these women on a level playing field with those who do not carry the BRCA1 mutation. According to the following study: “The frequency of chromosome breaks was greatly reduced following 1 to 3 months of oral selenium supplementation. The mean level of chromosome breaks in carriers following supplementation was similar to that of the non-carrier controls (0.40 versus 0.39). Therefore oral selenium is a good candidate for chemo-prevention in women who carry a mutation in the BRCA1 gene. Read more about this study here: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=15894690.
- Vitamin D3: helps to regulate over 100 genes in the body. Researchers at the University of Albany in New York discovered that giving laboratory mice Vitamin D supplements suppressed several proteins that TNBC cells and basal-type breast cancer cells need to survive. Those with Triple Negative Breast Cancer have been shown to have the highest percentage of vitamin D deficiencies as well as the lowest overall levels. Read more about the benefits of vitamin D
- Curcumin: is a compound that is found in turmeric root. Numerous studies, including one in 2012 conducted through the University of Otago in New Zealand, have shown that this substance stops the growth of TNBC cells by inducing programmed cell death (apoptosis) of the cancerous cells. Read more about curcumin
- Bee Propolis: comes from honeybees. Caffeic Acid Phenethyl Ester (or CAPE) is a medicinal compound that is found in bee propolis. CAPE inhibits MCF-7 (hormone receptor positive, HR+) and MDA-231 (a model of triple negative BC (TNBC) tumor growth, both in vitro and in vivo without affecting normal mammary cells. Read more about this study
- Green Tea: Green tea contains a substance called epigallocatechin-3-gallate, or EGCG. This compound induces cancer cell death by restricting blood flow. It also prevents DNA damage with new research finding that EGCG may stop the production of breast cancer stem cells. Just one teaspoon of Matcha Tea is equivalent to drinking ten cups of regular green tea. Most green tea only has .42mg of EGCG per gram, but Matcha Tea has 57.4mg per gram. That gives this tea 137 times the cancer stem cell fighting ability. Matcha is available in a Organic Matcha Green Tea Powder Form which means that your body can easily absorb all of its nutrients. Read more about green tea
- Medicinal Mushrooms- contain high levels of glycoproteins and polysaccharides. Research reveals that glycoproteins can help cellular communications in three ways. 1. they help your hormones perform their duties better. 2. they help receptor sites receive the messages they are supposed to receive 3. they help your immune system to be able to differentiate rogue cells from healthy cells Read more about medicinal mushrooms here
- Milk Thistle– is a relative of the artichoke that has been recognized for its liver-protective properties. Milk thistle is the best known source of the compound flavonoid silymarin, which contains silybin. Silybin has been shown to inhibit growth and induce apoptosis in human breast cancer cells and HER-2/neu over-expressing (HER2+) mammary tumors in mouse models.
- Essential oils- have a very small molecular weight which allows them to be absorbed through the skin and circulate throughout the bloodstream. They are lipid soluble, which means they also have the ability to cross through the cellular membrane and heal the body at the cellular level. The Essential Oil Desk Reference, 4th Edition, says that “ essential oils are lipid soluble and can penetrate cellular membranes bringing an increase of 21% oxygen to the cells within 20 minutes of application.” Normal cell function can be reestablished when there is sufficient oxygen, and this also allows the cells the ability to once again expel their waste products.have the ability to can be used topically. Clove essential oil in particular is said to be oxygenating. Read more about using essential oils.
- Systemic enzyme therapy– this involves taking large doses of proteolytic (protein dissolving) enzymes on an empty stomach at various times throughout the day. The enzymes are utilized by the body for various functions, including breaking down the fibrin proteins that surround tumors allowing them to be recognized and destroyed by the immune system. Read more about enzyme therapy
- Cannabis Oil- research has shown that PR+, HER2-positive, and triple-negative breast cancers can benefit from cannabis oil. The protocols recommended by those who have worked with patients recommend an oil with higher THC-to-CBD ratios, around 4:1 for this particular type of breast cancer. Read more about cannabis oil with this post.
- Supplements that build up the Natural Killer Cells of the body
Detoxing bath- Have long soaks in an Epson salt/sea salt/baking soda bath which can help those on a mostly vegetarian diet to mobilize toxins out through the skin. Add one cup of Epson salts, 1/2 cup baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) and 1/2 cup of sea salt to a warm bath and soak for 20 to 30 minutes. Rinse with plain water when finished soaking to prevent the salt from drying your skin.
Exercise: has a direct impact on your lymphatic system and its ability to remove toxins from the body. Read more about this here
Alternative therapies that may be helpful for TNBC: DCA (sodium Dichloroacetate), please talk with your doctor about prescribing pharmaceutical grade DCA.