Question from streetroddergal:I am almost done with radiation and I am told that tamoxifen is the next step. I do NOT want to be put on this for many reasons. Is there a natural way to keep the estrogen levels down? I heard of wheat germ extracts that inhibits breast cancer.
Response from Heather Shaw, M.D., Duke Comprehensive Cancer Center:You may be thinking of flaxseed, which has not yet been shown to reduce the risk of breast cancer recurrence. Flaxseed, soy and red clover all contain phytoestrogens--estrogen-like chemicals that come from plants. It is not clear at this time how the dietary or supplemental use of these weak, estrogen-like substances may affect the growth or recurrence of breast cancer in people, but they are more likely to encourage growth than inhibit it.
If you don't wish to take tamoxifen, ovarian suppression or ovary removal may be an option, assuming that you are premenopausal. If you are postmenopausal, aromatase inhibitors are a better alternative as they tend to have fewer serious side effects and are more effective at preventing recurrence than tamoxifen.
Other "natural" strategies to reduce the risk of recurrent breast cancer include increasing exercise to 30 minutes a day, maintaining or achieving a healthy weight and managing your diet , to include 5-7 servings of fruits/ vegetables a day and consist of fewer than 30 percent of calories from fat. None of these recommendations have the strong data support behind them that tamoxifen does for prevention of breast cancer recurrence, though.