Ask the Nutritionist
Q: Is it safe for breast cancer patients to take a Greens+ supplement that contains Lecithin? I have been taking these greens for about 15 years and have now been told by my doctor to avoid soy. Should I stop taking the Greens +?
DJ, Ottawa, Ontario
A: Patients with estrogen receptor positive breast cancers (ER+) have to be cautious of intake of soy because it is naturally rich in isoflavones, which are phytoestrogens or plant-based estrogenic compounds. Studies are inconclusive as to whether excessive intake of isoflavones can stimulate the growth of ER+ tumors.
Most studies have shown that moderate intake of whole soy foods have no adverse effects and are a healthy, lean protein source. However, soy products that are concentrated sources of phytoestrogen such as dietary supplements, pills, powders, and soy-based protein bars should be avoided. For more information about soy and breast cancer, please refer to this post about soy lecithin and breast cancer.
Greens+ supplement contains soy lecithin, which normally does not have an excessive amount of isoflavones when used as an emulsifier. However, higher amounts in supplements should be taken into consideration.
Greens+ also contains a large amount of antioxidants, which can reduce the effectiveness of cancer treatment. You may want to avoid Greens+ during any chemotherapy or radiation. There are also additional herbs in Greens+ that may also have an interaction with certain medications. For example, milk thistle can interact with tamoxifen, a common medicine prescribed for women with breast cancer, and ginseng interacts with many different medicines.
Greens+ also contains spirulina, a blue-green algae. Seaweed can play a role in a healthful and balanced diet by being rich in iron, calcium and omega-3 fats, but be aware of high sodium levels.
Another way to get similar nutrients and antioxidants (without potentially negatively affecting treatment) into your body in a healthful way is to eat or juice greens and fruits. There are recipes listed in the Dana Farber Health Library as well as two smoothie recipes below for some suggestions.
Green Monster (325 Calories, 11g protein)
- 1 cup almond milk, or milk of choice
- 1 ripe banana, preferably peeled and frozen
- 2 cups organic spinach
- 1 tablespoon chia seeds OR 1 tablespoon ground flax
- 1 tablespoon nut butter
- 1-3 ice cubes
- 1/4 cup of avocado if desired
Starting with the liquid, add in 1 cup of milk of your choice. Now add in the chia or flax and nut butter. Next, add in the spinach followed by the banana on top. Blend until smooth. Add in your ice cubes and blend some more.
Berrylicious Smoothie (345 Calories, 7g protein)
- 1 large frozen banana
- 1 tablespoon chia seeds
- 1 1/4 cups Almond Milk
- 1 cup frozen strawberries
- 1/4 cup frozen blueberries
Add Almond milk into blender followed by the rest of the ingredients. Blend until smooth. Add sweetener if preferred.