May 23, 2014 · 7 Replies

Nutrition for Cancer Prevention and Hereditary Cancer

By UCSFcounselor2 @ucsfcounselor2

Kintalk specialist speaks with UCSF registered dietitian, Greta Macaire about diet and exercise’s impact on a person’s risk for cancer.

"We work with many families who have Lynch syndrome, an inherited colon and uterine cancer predisposition, and Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer Syndrome due to mutations in their BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes.  Are there an diet and physical activity factors that affect the risk for: Breast, Colon, Ovarian and Uterine Cancer? Are there any foods and physical activities that you would recommend a person should avoid as they would increase a person’s risk for cancer? Unfortunately, many of our patients are currently undergoing treatment for cancer. Are there any special foods or physical activities that you recommend while they are going through their cancer treatment? One of our Kintalk members asked, So many of us have heard a glass of red wine is good for our heart health but that too much wine or alcohol can increase a person’s chance for getting cancer.  Can you please clarify how much alcohol is considered beneficial vs harmful? Do you have any recommendations for how a personal can help maintain these healthy eating habits and physical activity?"

Tags: Podcasts


Posted by @buguy5940, Jul 19, 2014

I recently learned that because I have Lynch Syndrome (known for 14 yrs) and had a colon cancer (Stage 1) (removed with sub-total colecotomy) I may have a 2X to 6X greater risk for prostate cancer. A recent exam by my doctor resulted in him finding a nodule on my prostate and a PSA reading of 6.26. I will be going to UCSF on 8/1 for a exam. Am I correct in my information about increased risk of prostate cancer with my history?


Posted by @ucsfcounselor2, Jul 21, 2014

Hi @buguy5940-

You are correct that men who have Lynch syndrome have an increased risk for prostate cancer and that the risk is some where between a 2 and 6 fold increase from that of the general population. It is really important for your urologist to know that you have Lynch syndrome. Prostate cancer is a very common cancer in men. Some men with Lynch syndrome will develop sporadic prostate cancer (not due to Lynch syndrome) and other men with Lynch will develop prostate cancer because of their Lynch syndrome. Determining whether or not a person's prostate cancer is due to Lynch syndrome can be done by doing special pathology tests on the tumor called IHC (immunohistochemistry).

Do you know which UCSF physician you will be meeting on 8/1? Good luck with your appointment. We will be thinking good thoughts for you.


Posted by @buguy5940, Jul 23, 2014

On August 1, at 1:30 PM I am scheduled for a Transrectal Ultrasound with Biopsy to be performed by Dr. Shinohara at
The Urology Oncology Practice
Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center
1600 Divisadaro, 3rd Floor, San Francisco
In the letter I received there was no mention of doing the special pathology test, IHC. Should I call and asked that it be included in my procedure?


Posted by @ucsfcounselor2, Jul 23, 2014

Hi @buguy5940 can you please send me an email to my UCSF email address? I can help coordinate pathology testing but will need some personal information from you. My email address is We would only do IHC on your prostate biopsy if we get a large enough sample to preform the testing on and only if the biopsy shows cancer cells. We can discuss further. Send me an email and we can further discuss.


Posted by @novo, Jul 29, 2014

Hi Megan and Greta,
Thanks for this presentation which brought a lot of useful information together in one place. @buguy5940 comments on prostate cancer got me thinking about the known benefits (?) of selenium supplements in preventing prostate cancer - eat a selenium rich brazil nut or two everyday to reduce you risk perhaps?
Articles like this one suggest that selenium also has a role to play in enhancing DNA damage repair (in this article is discusses BRCA1 mutations). By analogy, would you be able to comment on the role of selenium supplementation as a chemopreventive in Lynch Syndrome patients..?
It seems to me, that if my MLH1 gene mutation makes my body deficient in its ability to repair DNA damage, a nutritional supplement like selenium that enhances what ability I do have to repair any dna damage would be a good thing. Perhaps a couple of brazil nuts a day are a good idea for those with Lynch Syndrome..?


Posted by @ucsfcounselor2, Jul 30, 2014

Hi @novo- I think you bring up a great question about dietary supplements and their potential benefits against fighting cancer. I am going to have Greta comment on the benefits of selenium since she is the nutrition expert. I will post her comment as soon as she responds.


Posted by @ucsfcounselor2, Aug 8, 2014

Hi @novo- I wanted to pass along UCSF nutritionist, Greta MaCair's, response to your question about prostate cancer and selenium:

The role of selenium in prostate cancer prevention is unconfirmed at this point. We don't recommend selenium supplements as a prostate cancer prevention strategy, however, selenium is an important mineral for over 300 different enzymatic reactions in the body so clearly adequate dietary intake is important. Brazil nuts are probably the richest dietary source of selenium so certainly eating 1-2 per day is a great way to ensure an adequate daily intake.

Buguy5940 likes this

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