Five Supplements To Help Prevent Breast Cancer

Friday Nov 4 | BY |
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Screenshot 2015-10-06 12.11.54

Pink means breast cancer awareness month, which happens every year in October. I like to see women organized for better health, but raising more money for research, the primary purpose of Breast Cancer Awareness Month (BCAM), does little to help an individual woman’s daily effort to prevent cancer. The fact that BCAM is a pharmaceutical industry marketing campaign calls in question research motives. The war against cancer is an example of modern medicine’s efforts against advanced disease using maximum intervention based on high cost therapies, drugs, and procedures. Where do does all the money go? Are we wasting billions of dollars of government and private funding?

So much of what we have to do, to prevent disease occurs at home. For breast cancer survivors, prevention of recurrence requires awareness every day of the year for many years. This quiet battle goes on behind big media’s awareness campaign, but can make more impact on a single woman’s struggle to prevent and beat breast cancer than the multi billion-dollar research industry.

Thriving Versus Surviving

I’ve found that my patients who have specific positive beliefs that reframe their point of reference from victim to proactive partner, and who work a daily plan to actively prevent cancer or recurrence have extraordinary results. I’ll never forget these patients.

Roberta was a two-time breast cancer survivor whose oncologist warned of an imminent deadly third occurrence.

She had radical mastectomy of both breast and was determined to beat her cancer and she did! First, she completely changed her diet to vegetarian; raw juices daily, and walked five miles every day. When she came to see me, she had just finished a five day wheat grass juice cleanse.

She requested a personalized supplement plan to improve her immune system, want to get regular acupuncture treatments, and have some one monitor her progress with regular blood testing. She best the five year cancer-free milestone, then eight years, then ten, and now she’s more than twelve years cancer free.

On routine mammography, Paulina’s radiologist found a suspicious nodule. The biopsy confirmed her oncologist recommended breast cancer and a lumpectomy.

I agreed with her surgeon that the best choice was to take it out. Paulina read up on the latest outcome studies on small, early stage breast tumors. She came back to see me armed with data.  The most recent reports about these minute amounts of abnormal cells, called Stage O cancer, suggests that women who do nothing live as long as those who get treatment. Often, these insubstantial cell changes never advance to aggressive cancer. Faced with the patient’s dilemma, I discussed risks of doing too much versus risk associated with doing nothing. From my clinical experience, doing nothing was not an option.

We made an agreement that she would follow my advice and take supplements exactly as prescribed, and have blood testing including tumor markers every six months and a breast MRI once a year. After three years, Paulina feels better than ever, her tumor markers remain normal, and the breast nodule is smaller. Her last MRI was negative for cancerous changes.

Maryanne had a similar case, but her biopsy was negative.

Despite regular breast exams and annual breast screening that previously discover fibrocystic changes – not tumors, her gynecologist called for a consultation with a surgeon who recommended radical mastectomy as soon as possible.  She came to my office in a panic. I ordered tumor markers and a breast MRI, and started her on a personalized nutritional supplement program. All tests confirmed that Maryanne did not have cancer. She cancelled her surgery. After five years, Maryanne remains cancer free.

Though my clinical work emphasizes personalized functional medicine, when it comes to supplements there are some generalizations that work for most women, most of the time.

5 Supplements That Help Reduce Breast Cancer Risk

Supplement                    Type & Average Daily Dosage

Flaxseed Lignans                      secoisolariciresinol diglycoside 50-100 mg

Green Tea Polyphenols             epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) 200-400 mg

Iodine                                     potassium iodide 1.0-6.25 mg

Vitamin D3                              cholecalciferol 2,000 – 5,000 IU

Vitamin K2 Combination          menaquinone-4 & menaquinone-7 1000mcg of each

Flaxseed Lignans

Lignans are a group of natural compounds found in fibrous plants like flax, sesame, and rye bran. Flaxseeds are a particularly rich source of lignans. Studies show that flaxseed oil, especially secoisolariciresinol diglucoside (SDG) lignan make the anti-cancer drug tamoxifen work better                                   

Green Tea

Polyphenol compounds found in green tea are rich sources of antioxidants with powerful healing properties. Tea polyphenols protect against tumor development and inhibit tumor proliferation once cancer appears. However, it appears that just drinking green tea is not enough to prevent breast cancer. Scientists identified the cancer-beating chemical in green tea as Epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), which modulates estrogen receptor function to inhibit cancer cell growth.

Vitamin K2

Researchers found that menaquinone-4, the most common form of vitamin K2 reduces breast cancer proliferation. Menaquinone-7 (MK-7), however, is the form used in vitamin K2 supplements because the liver metabolizes it slower providing more vitamin K in the body. Taking MK-7 supplements raises vitamin K levels as measured in a blood test, but menaquinone-4 improves bone healing, prevents osteoporosis, and has a positive impact on the outcome of breast cancer. Until we know more, the best practice is to take a combination of menaquinone-4 and -7.


When it comes to optimal nutrition and cancer prevention, iodine is the most misunderstood nutrient. For healthy breasts, women need enough iodine. The female breast and thyroid gland are highly hormone responsive tissues, both changing dramatically when hormone levels fluctuate.Breast tissue hyperplasia, the kind of abnormal growth that can lead to cancer, is increased in iodine deficient women and regresses when iodine is supplemented.  Women with breast cancer have lower levels of iodine in breast tissue. The research strongly suggests that beating breast cancer involves normalizing thyroid hormone levels and getting enough iodine.

Vitamin D3

Several scientific studies show that supplementing with vitamin D3 reduces breast cancer risk. It seems that vitamin D3 help modulate estrogen and progesterone, hormones associated with driving breast cancer in women. In a recent European study, vitamin D and calcium supplementation was associated with lower breast cancer risk.

If you are diagnosed with breast cancer, have a mid-term strategy in mind, as well as a long-range plan of disease modification with a goal of improving your outcome.  I remind my patients that a tumor is the most active part of cancer, but not the entire cancerous process. From my clinical perspective, it’s not enough to attack the tumor. A comprehensive, integrative strategy has proven best for my patients.

Take charge of your health. Become informed. Do all that you can to prevent breast cancer, including taking these five supplements. However, remember that in extremely high dosage, especially in susceptible people, even beneficial nutrients can be toxic.


Dr. J. E. Williams


Dr. Williams is a pioneer in integrative and functional medicine, the author of six books, and a practicing clinician with over 100,000 patient visits. His areas of interest include longevity and viral immunity. Formerly from San Diego, he now resides in Sarasota, Florida and practices at the Florida Integrative Medical Center. He teaches at NOVA Southeastern University and Emperor’s College of Oriental Medicine.

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  1. Pandora says:

    Dear Dr. Williams,

    Thanks for a great article! I’d add, with regard to green tea and EGCG, that consuming it along with mushrooms can radically boost its cancer prevention potential. Patrick Quillin’s great book Beating Cancer with Nutrition notes that eating mushrooms and drinking green tea in the same day leads to a 90% decrease in the risk of developing breast cancer.

    90% is pretty awesome — I combined these two foods in my diet, consistently, for two years. I’m trying to get back to this great habit.

    Here’s the book:

    And Patrick’s site:

  2. June Hanson says:

    Such timely information. Been through years of fibrocystic breasts, mammograms that were useless, hiding tumors. Signed papers to have mastectomy. Knew, I would not need it, as was into natural preventive way of life. Tumors were not malignant, but hiding, never showed up. Mastopectomies, etc. Then I, meant you, Dr Williams, stayed on your natural supplements and therapies. Have not had any problems. Alternative, Integrated medicine works. Great news is, benefits of your Anti-aging program are so evident in my life. Thank you Dr. Williams.

  3. Mary says:

    I have only seen 2 Vitamin K2 supplements that include both MK4 & MK7. These also include K1.
    Vita Cost has one and LFE has the other. They look like very similar products.

    Any comments on having K1 as well? I know too much of this one can be problematic.

  4. Marie Z says:

    Great article and information Dr., thank you!
    We must be pro active with our own health. It has to be part
    of our every day life.

  5. Annie says:

    Thank you Dr. Williams for this great article.

  6. healthadvise says:

    Such a great post about cancer. Many people are suffering from this type of disease. Thanks for sharing this useful article. i hope that I can spread your this wording to the people who are suffering from this problem. Keep posting more. I liked it.

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