Cancer Diet During Cancer Treatment
Careful food choices will help support your immune system’s fight against cancer. The foods you choose to eat during active cancer treatment will vary according to any side effects you may be experiencing. Learn how to manage side effects with nutrition.
View our nutrition guides to learn more about what to eat during cancer treatment.
Overall, try to make food choices that provide you enough calories , protein , nutrients such as vitamins and minerals, and fluids . Also, excercise can help with appetite and digestion issues related to treatment.
Make an appointment today with one of our cancer dietitians to begin managing your nutrition.
Should You Take Supplements During Cancer Treatment
If youre not eating as much as usual during treatment, or if you have side effects like vomiting and diarrhea that cause you to lose vitamins and nutrients, you might consider taking a multivitamin.
Vitamin D tends to be the most common vitamin deficiency, says Rajagopal. Vitamin D helps keep your immune system strong, reduces fatigue and supports bone health. Especially if youre on steroids, youll be at risk for bone density loss.
Talk to a registered dietitian and your oncologist before adding any vitamins or supplements to your diet.
Sweeteners: Saccharin Cyclamate And Aspartame
Cyclamate is not carcinogenic itself, but when combined with saccharin it produced bladder tumors in rats, which led to its ban in the US. Later studies showed that saccharin in high doses promoted tumors of the bladder and other sites in experimental animals. Saccharin was banned in Canada, but the controversy surrounding the consumption of this and other artificial sweeteners still exists . Aspartame sold under the brand name NutraSweet or Equal has been associated with developing lymphoma and leukemia in rats, and brain tumors. However, epidemiology studies did not find that its consumption increases the risk of cancer . Acesulfame-K, a relatively new artificial sweetener found in baking goods, gum and gelatin, has not been thoroughly tested, however it has been linked to kidney tumors .
Recommended Reading: Royal Canin Veterinary Diet Urinary So
Sugar And Refined Carbs
Processed foods that are high in sugar and low in fiber and nutrients have been linked to a higher cancer risk .
In particular, researchers have found that a diet that causes blood glucose levels to spike is associated with an increased risk of several cancers, including stomach, breast and colorectal cancers .
One study in over 47,000 adults found that those who consumed a diet high in refined carbs were almost twice as likely to die from colon cancer than those who ate a diet low in refined carbs .
Its thought that higher levels of blood glucose and insulin are cancer risk factors. Insulin has been shown to stimulate cell division, supporting the growth and spread of cancer cells and making them more difficult to eliminate .
In addition, higher levels of insulin and blood glucose can contribute to inflammation in your body. In the long term, this can lead to the growth of abnormal cells and possibly contribute to cancer .
This may be why people with diabetes a condition characterized by high blood glucose and insulin levels have an increased risk of certain types of cancer (
To protect against cancer, limit or avoid foods that boost insulin levels, such as foods high in sugar and refined carbs .
What Eating Patterns Can Reduce The Chance Of Diet
A diet rich in nutrient dense, fresh whole food such as wholegrains, fruit, vegetables, legumes, lentils, nuts, milk and milk products as recommended by the Ministry of Health is good for health and can reduce cancer risk.
Healthy eating means eating a variety of foods every day, including:
- plenty of vegetables and fruit
- wholegrain foods, naturally high in fiber such as wholemeal bread, crackers, breakfast cereal, rice, and pasta.
- some milk and milk products or plant alternatives that are mostly low or reduced-fat.
- some lentils, legumes, nuts and seeds or fish, chicken and/or red meat , with the fat removed.
Choose and/or prepare foods and drinks:
- with unsaturated fats such as canola, corn, rice bran, soy or olive oil, avocado and margarine instead of saturated fats like butter, coconut, palm oil or cheese.
- that are low in salt . Choose reduced or non-added salt foods such as peanut butter or margarine. If you use salt, choose iodised salt.
- with little or no added sugar and
- unprocessed, such as fresh fruit rather than juice, whole potatoes rather than crisps, porridge rather than rice bubbles.
Don’t Miss: Oil-free Diet Pros And Cons
Omega : 6 Ratio Imbalance
Omega 3 fats have been shown in animal studies to be protect from cancer, while omega 6 fats have been found to be cancer promoting fats. Now there have been several studies that have tested this hypothesis in relation to breast cancer, summarized in Table Table1.1. Except for the study by London et al , all of these studies found an association between a higher ratio of N-3 to N-6 fats and reduced risk of breast cancer. Long chain N-3 and N-6 fats have a different effect on the breast tumor suppressor genes BRCA1 and BRCA2. Treatment of breast cell cultures with N-3 fats results in increased expression of these genes while arachadonic acid had no effect . Flax seed oil and DHA both can be used to increase the intake of N-3 fat, with DHA being a more efficient, sure source.
Fruits Vegetables And Cancer
Eating fruit and vegetables has long been known to provide many health benefits. Fruits and vegetables contain many vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, which may help to decrease your risk of cancer in particular areas of the digestive system, such as the mouth and stomach.Evidence has weakened over recent years over the role of fruit and vegetables in preventing cancer. Yet fruits and vegetables are still an important part of your diet and may play an indirect effect of preventing cancer because they are relatively low in kilojoules and consumption is associated with a healthier weight.
Don’t Miss: Diet After Gastric Bypass Surgery
How Does Cancer Treatment Affect Your Diet
Treatments such as chemotherapy and some forms of radiation therapy can cause a variety of side effects, including:
- Constipation, which can cause discomfort and further reduce your desire to eat
- Diarrhea, which can drain your body of nutrients
- Fatigue, which means youre less active, so you burn fewer calories and dont feel as hungry throughout the day
- Loss of taste, which can make food unappealing
- Nausea and vomiting, which might reduce your appetite and cause weight loss
Sometimes it also depends on the specific type of cancer you have, explains Rajagopal. Treatment for breast cancer and blood cancers often involve steroids. Steroids can actually increase your appetite and increase your blood sugar levels, which might lead to insulin resistance and weight gain. So instead of losing weight, its possible to gain quite a bit of weight from the combination of medications and a more sedentary lifestyle during cancer treatment.
Some people also have hormone therapy after chemotherapy for breast cancer or endometrial cancer. The drugs suppress production of estrogen, a hormone that plays an important role in metabolism. If your metabolism slows down, you may put on weight.
People with pancreatic cancer often find it difficult to maintain their weight. Since the pancreas isnt functioning the way it should, they may not be able to digest food normally. This can lead to weight loss or malnourishment.
Eat For Color Variety
There are many delicious options in a plant-based diet. Experiment with new fruits or vegetables, or new ways to incorporate staples.
Cost can be a factor in selecting a plant-based diet menu, as fresh fruits and vegetables may be more expensive. Good alternatives are frozen fruits and vegetables. They are flash-frozen to preserve nutrients and are less expensive. Canned options are available, as well, for people with a stricter budget. Be sure to look for options without added sugar or salt.
Read Also: Dangers Of Low Carb Diet
Fiber Fruits And Vegetables
The evidence on the effect of dietary fiber on the risk of colon cancer is mixed with some types of evidence showing a benefit and others not. While eating fruit and vegetables has a benefit, it has less benefit on reducing cancer than once thought. Soy is rich in phytoestrogens. Phytoestrogens have weak estrogenic effects, but are naturally occurring compounds.
Two 2020 meta-analyses found that a high fiber intake was associated with a lower risk of both premenopausal and postmenopausal breast cancers and a higher survival rate in patients with breast cancer.
A 2014 study found fruit but not vegetables protected against upper gastrointestinal tract cancer. While fruit, vegetable and fiber protected against colorectal cancer and fiber protected against liver cancer.
Certain Foods Contain Cancer
There is no single superfood that can prevent cancer. Rather, a holistic dietary approach is likely to be most beneficial.
Scientists estimate that eating the optimal diet for cancer may reduce your risk by up to 70% and would likely help recovery from cancer as well .
They believe that certain foods can fight cancer by blocking the blood vessels that feed cancer in a process called anti-angiogenesis .
However, nutrition is complex, and how effective certain foods are at fighting cancer varies depending on how theyre cultivated, processed, stored and cooked.
Some of the key anti-cancer food groups include:
Also Check: Diets For Diabetics Type 2
New Direction In The Application Of Micronutrients Against Cancer: Synergy Approach
A modern scientific research increasingly strives to explore and harness the anti-cancer potential of natural compounds. It is represented by a research direction that aims at increasing efficacy of micronutrients through their synergistic interactions. It has been shown that such synergistically acting combinations of nutrients display pleiotropic effects against cancer by simultaneously affecting different mechanisms involved in malignancy Initial results indicating enhanced anti-cancer efficacy of nutrient synergy approach were published in 2003 . To date, over 100 studies using in vitro and in vivo approaches have confirmed the multiple anti-cancer mechanisms affected by the two specific nutrient synergies .
Table 1: Nutrients contained in two tested natural anti-cancer synergy compositions. View Table 1
Table 2: Anti-cancer effects of individual food components and natural compounds combined in Nutrient Synergy. View Table 2
Taking into account general safety and also the economic advantage of natural compounds, this new direction in cancer research opens up a chance for developing effective control of cancer without the detrimental side effects and skyrocketing costs of current conventional approaches.
The Claim: Eating Processed Foods Causes Cancer
The evidence linking processed meats, such as salami, beef jerky, and cold cuts, to the risk of certain cancers — namely colorectal cancer — is strong.
In 2015, the International Agency for Research on Cancer , part of the World Health Organization, classified processed meats as a Group 1 carcinogen, a designation reserved for cancer-causing substances. In a statement about the decision, made after 22 experts from 10 countries looked at hundreds of studies, the agency noted that this decision was based on âsufficient evidence in humans that the consumption of processed meat causes colorectal cancer.â
At the same time, the IARC also looked at the association between red meat and cancer. After examining hundreds of studies, the group concluded that while there were links to colorectal, pancreatic, and prostate cancer, the evidence was limited, and it classified red meat as a âprobable carcinogen.â
Some studies that follow people over time suggest that other âultra-processedâ foods, such sodas, canned soups, and instant noodles might increase the risk of developing cancer. Such foods may contain potentially harmful chemicals, such as acrylamide, nitrates, heterocyclic amines, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, but they are also often high in added sugar, salt, and saturated fat.
The Verdict: There is a strong link between processed meat and cancer risk. Red meat and ultra-processed foods may also increase cancer risk, but the evidence is not as strong.
Read Also: Grain Free Diets For Dogs
Connections Between Food And Cancer
It is challenging to find specific links between a food or nutrient and cancer because:
Foods contain many substances that may either increase or lower cancer risk.
Most people eat and drink a variety of foods. This creates interactions that are hard to study.
The effects of a food or nutrient can vary depending on how much of it you eat.
Some research shows that how a food is prepared may influence its risk or benefits.
Why Do Taller People Have A Higher Risk Of Cancer
The risk for most types of cancer increases with height. A WCRF systematic review showed that increases in risk for each 5 cm increment in height ranged from 4% for prostate cancer to 12% for malignant melanoma.83 The mechanism is uncertain but might be related to taller people having more stem cells at risk of cancer or a factor such as insulin-like growth factor 1 having effects on both height and cancer risk.84 Undernutrition causes restricted growth, and some aspects of adequate nutrition during childhood and adolescence, such as an ample intake of energy and protein, might lead to relatively greater height and a higher overall cancer risk.83 It is not clear, however, whether better understanding of this pathway could lead to strategies for reducing cancer risk.
Acrylamide, a chemical produced during high temperature cooking and in the manufacture of many types of carbohydrate-rich foods , is classified by IARC as probably carcinogenic to humans.85 This conclusion was based largely on studies in experimental animals epidemiological studies have been mostly null or inconclusive86 but are limited by the difficulty of estimating long term exposure and by confounding owing to smoking. Recent research on possible mutational signatures of this chemical indicate that it might contribute to risk.87
Also Check: How Many Carbs On Keto Diet
Limit Processed And Red Meat
Many different studies have established a link between the risk of cancer and eating processed meat such bacon, sausages, hotdogs, pepperoni, and salami. Eating about 2 oz. a day of processed meat increases your risk of colorectal cancer by 20%. This could be due to the nitrate preservatives or other substances used in the processing of the meat, although risk factors for cancer also increase by eating red meat, too. The safest strategy is to limit the amount of processed meat you consume and vary your diet by seeking out other protein sources, such as fish, chicken, eggs, nuts, and soy, rather than relying just on red meat.
Cancer And Diet : How What You Eat Can Influence Cancer
But studies suggest that simple lifestyle changes, such as following a healthy diet, could prevent 3050% of all cancers .
Growing evidence points to certain dietary habits increasing or decreasing cancer risk.
Whats more, nutrition is thought to play an important role in treating and coping with cancer.
This article covers everything you need to know about the link between diet and cancer.
Read Also: Benefits Of Plant Based Diets
Tips For Cutting Down On Carcinogens
Carcinogens are cancer-causing substances found in food. They can form during the cooking or preserving processmostly in relation to meatand as foods starts to spoil. Examples of foods that have carcinogens are cured, dried, and preserved meats burned or charred meats smoked foods and foods that have become moldy.
To reduce your exposure to carcinogens:
Do not cook oils on high heat. Low-heat cooking or baking prevents oils or fats from turning carcinogenic. Instead of deep-frying, pan-frying, and sautéing, opt for healthier methods such as baking, boiling, steaming, or broiling.
Go easy on the barbecue. Burning or charring meats creates carcinogenic substances. If you do choose to barbecue, flip frequently to avoid charring, don’t overcook the meat, and be sure to cook at the proper temperature . When fat drips onto the flames, it can also release another chemical linked to cancer, so opt for leaner cuts of meat if you can.
Store oils in a cool dark place in airtight containers, as they quickly become rancid when exposed to heat, light, and air.
Avoid food that looks or smells moldy, as it likely contains aflatoxin, a strong carcinogen most commonly found on moldy peanuts. Nuts will stay fresh longer if kept in the refrigerator or freezer.
Be careful what you put in the microwave. Use waxed paper rather than plastic wrap to cover your food in the microwave. And always use microwave-safe containers.
The Claim: Some Superfoods Can Prevent Cancer
While experts say that a diet rich in plant-based foods, such vegetables, fruits, and whole grains, can reduce cancer risk, they caution claims of any single superfood that keeps cancer at bay.
âSo far, there have not been robust enough data to suggest that one particular food or food product can in and of itself reduce risk of cancer or cancer progression,â Iyengar said. âNutrition is very complex and strongly relies on the synergy within the total diet that youâre consuming, and also in the context of your general metabolic health, physical activity levels, and genetic predisposition.â
Another consideration when it comes to diets is whether youâre starting a diet before or after a cancer diagnosis. While a plant-based diet may help stave off cancers in healthy people, when it comes to cancer patients, there are other considerations to be made. Daniel-MacDougall noted, for instance, that she wouldnât recommend that cancer patients begin vegetarian or vegan diets without talking with a cancer dietitian. âCancer patients really need to think about supporting their immune system, so I donât want to see a cancer patient start a diet and become protein or B vitamin deficient,â she said.
The Verdict: Adding a single superfood to your daily foods wonât keep you from getting cancer. But eating a diet rich in plant-based foods such as vegetables and whole grains can help prevent the disease.
You May Like: Paleo Diet Food List Not Allowed