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Foods to Eat and Avoid When You Have HER2 Positive Cancer

Foods to Eat and Avoid When You Have HER2 Positive Cancer

What Is HER2-Positive Cancer? 

Human epidermal growth factor receptor (HER2) positive cells have a protein on their surface called HER2. HER2 regulates cell development in normal cells. Cancer cells that produce an excessive amount of HER2 may develop more quickly and spread to other regions of the body. Checking for HER2 positivity in cancer r can aid in therapy planning, which may include medications that kill HER2-positive cancer cells. Breast, bladder, pancreatic, ovarian, and stomach cancers are all known to be HER2 positive in some cases. HER 2 positive is also known as c-erbB-2 positive. 

Can Diet Help HER2-Positive Cancer? 

Your everyday eating habits can have an impact on your overall health. Diet, physical exercise, and other such modifiable risk factors may be linked to 20 to 30 percent of all cancers. 

While no single food or diet will prevent or treat cancer, it is an important aspect of your overall treatment approach. 

Some foods may help to decrease the progression of HER2-positive cancer by lowering the amount of HER2 protein produced. Other foods may prevent cancer cells from absorbing nutrients or make them more vulnerable to drug treatment. The HER2-positive cancer cells shrink or die as a result of this. 

Similarly, certain diets may aggravate the cancer. They could make cancer cells grow and spread more easily. 

Foods to Eat if You Have HER2-Positive Cancer 

Citrus fruits 

Citrus fruits contain antioxidants called flavonoids that may help slow the growth of HER2-positive cancer cells. 

Consider eating the following citrus fruits: 

  • oranges 
  • grapefruits 
  • bergamots 
  • lemons 
  • limes 

Citrus fruits may also help make cancer cells more sensitive to medications that stop them from spreading to other parts of the body. 

Black pepper 

Black pepper contains an active compound called piperine. 

Piperine has an anti-tumor effect on HER2-positive breast cancer cells. This means that it stops the cells from growing and causes them to die. Piperine was also found to stop the HER2 gene from making HER2 proteins. 

Vegetables with phytoestrogens 

Some vegetables may help slow or stop the growth of HER2-positive cells. They may also help improve the efficacy of certain cancer drug treatments. 

Consider eating more vegetables and herbs, including: 

  • Chinese cabbage 
  • celery 
  • parsley 
  • bell peppers 
  • rutabagas 
  • lettuce 

These vegetables all contain phytoestrogens, or flavones, which are plant-based compounds. 

Omega-3 fatty acids 

Foods that are high in healthy unsaturated fats called omega-3 fatty acids are good for your overall health. These healthy fats can lower and balance cholesterol levels and help treat HER2-positive breast cancer and other types of breast cancer.

Foods that are high in omega-3 fatty acids include: 

  • olive oil 
  • flax seed 
  • chia seeds 
  • pumpkin seeds 
  • pine nuts 
  • walnuts 
  • navy beans 
  • avocados 
  • algae 
  • salmon 
  • sardines 
  • mackerel 
  • trout 
  • tuna 

Both olive oil and flax seed contain omega-3 fatty acids and other chemicals that may help your body fight against cancer cells. 

Melatonin foods 

You may know that melatonin helps you sleep better. This natural chemical may also have anti-cancer properties. 

Melatonin helps block HER2-positive breast cancer cells from dividing. It may also prevent the cancer from spreading to other parts of the body. 

Your body makes melatonin in small amounts. You can also get a healthy dose of melatonin from the following foods: 

  • eggs 
  • fish 
  • nuts 
  • mushrooms 
  • sprouted legumes 
  • sprouted seeds 

Soy foods 

Soy is a sensitive issue, as previous research has revealed that it may cause breast cancer. Recent research, however, suggests that this is not the case. 

Breast cancer is less common in various Asian countries than it is in the United States. One reason could be that Americans eat a lot of unprocessed soy foods, but further research is needed. 

Flavones can be found in a variety of forms in soy. Breast cancer cells may be slowed or stopped by these plant-based substances. 

Eating more soy protein instead of animal protein may help your body fight cancer by lowering cholesterol and harmful fats in the body. 

Consider adding the following soy foods to your daily diet: 

  • soy milk 
  • Tofu 
  • tempeh 
  • miso 
  • edamame beans 
  • soybean sprouts 
  • soybean oil 
  • natto 


Grapes and grape seeds contain a number of healthy compounds that may help treat HER2-positive cancer. 

Red and purple grapes are rich in an antioxidant called resveratrol. It may improve the results of breast cancer treatments, including radiation therapy and chemotherapy. This is thought to be because resveratrol can balance natural estrogen hormones in the body. 

It’s important to note that the studies mentioned above investigated the relationship between particular compounds in foods, not the foods themselves. 

Foods to Avoid if You Have HER2-Positive Cancer 

Sugary foods 

Sugary foods can put you at risk for a variety of health issues, including cancer. Sugar consumption has been linked to the progression of all forms of breast cancers. 

Sugary diets may raise the risk of cancer and cause cancer cells to develop faster. This could be due to the fact that sugar produces inflammation in the body. 

Refined or simple carbs or starches are examples of sugary foods. Added sugars should make up less than 10 percent of your daily caloric intake. 

Avoid added sugars in foods and drinks. These sugars may be listed as: 

  • sucrose 
  • fructose 
  • glucose 
  • dextrose 
  • maltose 
  • levulose 

You should also avoid simple or starchy carbohydrates, including: 

  • corn syrup or high-fructose corn syrup 
  • soda 
  • fruit juices 
  • energy drinks 
  • white bread and pasta 
  • white rice 
  • baked goods that contain white flour 


Alcohol has a hormonal effect on the body, providing the nutrients needed for cancer cells to develop. 

Saturated and trans fats 

Diets that are high in saturated and trans fats may make it easier for HER2-positive cancer cells and other types of cancer cells to grow. 

Eating too much saturated fats can raise your cholesterol levels.  

Avoid foods with saturated and trans fats including: 

  • partially hydrogenated vegetable oils 
  • margarine 
  • shortening 
  • non-dairy creamers 
  • deep-fried foods 
  • packaged cookies and crackers 
  • cake mixes 
  • cake frosting 
  • pies and pastries 
  • processed chips and snacks 
  • frozen dinners 


Eating too much meat can raise your cholesterol levels. All types of meat and poultry have saturated fats. 

Animal products also lower melatonin levels in the body. These factors may cause HER2-positive cancer to grow and spread. 

Lifestyle Tips for HER2-Positive Patients 

Obesity and excess weight might have a negative impact on your prognosis. 

Maintaining an active lifestyle can assist you in maintaining a healthy weight.  Exercise and a balanced diet may also help you get better results from your treatment. 

Supplements, in addition to a well-balanced diet, may help you acquire the nutrients you need. Omega-3 fatty acid supplements can decrease cholesterol levels by adding healthy fats to your diet. 

Anti-cancer effects can be found in some plants and spices. Turmeric includes an antioxidant called curcumin, which has been shown to inhibit the growth of cancer cells. This spice can be used in cooking or as a supplement. 



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