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Plant Compound May Reduce Risk of Breast Cancer Spread

Plant Treatment for breast cancer spread

Increasing your intake of certain herbs and vegetables could help reduce the risk of metastasis from Triple-Negative Breast Cancer.


About 10-20% of breast cancers – or more than one out of every 10 – are found to be “triple-negative”. This means that three receptors have tested negative for estrogen, progesterone, and HER2 and will not respond to traditional therapies such as hormonal therapy (tamoxifen or aromatase inhibitors) or Herceptin (trastuzumab).

"Triple-negative breast cancers are cancer cells that lack three receptors targeted by current chemotherapy regimens. Because of this lack of receptors, common cancer drugs can't 'find' the cells, and doctors must treat the cancer with extremely aggressive and highly toxic treatment strategies," said Salman Hyder, with the University of Missouri.

"Women with this type of breast cancer also frequently develop metastatic lesions that originate from drug-resistant cells. Therefore, safer therapeutic therapies that are more effective are being sought for this deadly type of cancer in women."

One of those new therapies may lie in a compound found naturally in some foods that we already eat. Luteolin is found in herbs such as thyme and parsley and vegetables such as celery and broccoli. In a series of tests performed by Hyder and colleagues, luteolin inhibited the metastasis of triple-negative cancer in affected mice.

"Mice exposed to human triple-negative breast cancer cells experienced significantly reduced metastastic growth in their lungs after being treated with luteolin," Hyder said. "In almost every case, the mice also saw no weight loss, which means luteolin has no toxic effects; this plant compound is both safe and effective."

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Obviously, this research is very early stage, but it is promising. Until then, it adds to the research from past studies supporting breast cancer patients to adopt a plant-based diet.

According to the American Institute for Cancer Research, women who eat a primarily plant-based diet have a 15% lower risk of breast cancer overall, but particularly in those whose tumors are not fueled by hormones – as in the case of triple-negative breast cancer.

For more information, please also read "Understanding Triple-Negative Breast Cancer"

Journal Reference:
Matthew Cook, Yayun Liang, Cynthia Besch-Williford, Salman Hyder. Luteolin inhibits lung metastasis, cell migration, and viability of triple-negative breast cancer cells. Breast Cancer: Targets and Therapy, 2016; Volume 9: 9 DOI: 10.2147/BCTT.S124860

Additional Resources:
Triple Negative Breast Cancer Foundation
American Institute for Cancer Research

Photo Credit:
By Lombroso - Own work, Public Domain, via Wikimedia Commons