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Breast cancer: Natural health products

Breast Cancer

Natural health products

Many natural health products claim to benefit people with breast cancer. But there is little evidence to support the claims.

Some of these products contain phytoestrogens. Phytoestrogens are compounds that act like estrogen. It’s not clear how they work, but there is a risk that they could encourage some breast cancer cells to grow. Also, phytoestrogens may interfere with certain medicines used to treat breast cancer.

The table below lists some (but not all) ingredients that are phytoestrogens. They are commonly used on their own as supplements or as part of natural health products.

If you have a history of breast cancer, it’s recommended that you avoid all supplements or natural health products with these ingredients. You do not need to cut any foods from your diet. It is okay to eat flaxseeds and soy products (such as tofu, soybeans, edamame, and soy milk) in moderation.

Always check with your healthcare provider before taking any supplements or natural products.

Phytoestrogens

A to CH to R
  • aletris alfalfa
  • androstenedione
  • anise
  • asparagus racemosus
  • beta-sitosterols
  • bitter melon
  • black cohosh
  • black currant
  • bladderwrack
  • boron
  • burdock
  • chasteberry
  • hops
  • hu zhang
  • ipriflavone
  • kudzu
  • lavender
  • licorice
  • milk thistle
  • pleurisy root
  • pomegranate seeds
  • pregnenolone
  • raspberry leaf
  • red clover
  • resveratrol
D to G S to Z
  • DHEA
  • dong quai
  • epimedium
  • evening primrose oil
  • fennel
  • flaxseed
  • fo-ti
  • German chamomile
  • ginseng (all types)
  • guggul
  • sage
  • scarlet pimpernel
  • soy supplements
  • star anise
  • tangeretin
  • tea tree oil
  • turmeric (curcumin)
  • wild carrot
  • wild yam

To learn more, see Nutrition and Breast Cancer by Alberta Health Services dietitians.

To see this information online and learn more, visit https://MyHealth.Alberta.ca/health/aftercareinformation/pages/conditions.aspx?hwid=custom.ab_breastcancer_naturalhealthprod_inst.

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Current as of: September 09, 2023

Author: Cancer Care Alberta, Alberta Health Services

This material is not a substitute for the advice of a qualified health professional. This material is intended for general information only and is provided on an "as is", "where is" basis. Although reasonable efforts were made to confirm the accuracy of the information, Alberta Health Services does not make any representation or warranty, express, implied or statutory, as to the accuracy, reliability, completeness, applicability or fitness for a particular purpose of such information. Alberta Health Services expressly disclaims all liability for the use of these materials, and for any claims, actions, demands or suits arising from such use.