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Food and Cancer

Posted 11/21/2013

Posted in

  This is another in the occasional series about food/nutrition and cancer. To repeat myself: no one can prove that any particular food or supplement or diet can prevent or cure or reduce cancer. There is, however, an increasing body of evidence that some foods are especially healthy irregardless of our cancer situation.

  Many people have many questions about diet as they go through cancer treatment, and, frankly, many doctors are ill prepared to respond. We have just hired a nutritionist to be in our Hematology-Oncology Unit; does it not seem that she should have been here years ago?

  This is a good article from Medscape about diet. I have some trouble with the title, but am willing to overlook it in order to share a lot of potentially helpful information. There is even a good soup recipe at the end--although I just made and ate what has to be one of the world's best soups ever and would absolutely recommend it (and it, too, is chock full of vegetables, even kale):

  Here is an excerpt and then a link to read more:

Food to Fight Cancer
Laura A. Stokowski, RN, MS

No "One Size Fits All" Strategy

Good nutrition is important. But what exactly is good nutrition for the patient with cancer? Does it differ from general recommendations for good nutrition in anyone?

Little consensus exists on dietary recommendations for patients with cancer.[2] Because so many patients turn to online sources for health-related information, a recent study reviewed the online recommendations published by 21 cancer centers. Only 4 centers provided nutritional guidelines, one half of which recommended a low-fat diet and one half a high-calorie diet. The same study reviewed nutrition guidelines on other cancer-related Websites and found no consistency in dietary recommendations. Such words as "healthy" and "balanced" are often used, but seem to be defined differently.

Suzanne Dixon believes that basic good nutrition guidelines are appropriate for some cancer patients, but when looking at the entire spectrum of cancers, huge differences become apparent in the ability of patients to take in and absorb enough of the right kinds of nutrients. On one end of the spectrum are patients with head and neck cancers, pancreatic, and often lung cancer; metastatic disease; and those undergoing treatments for advanced cancers, who have enormous difficulty maintaining adequate nutrition. Addressing these issues is vital, because poor nutritional status goes hand-in-hand with suboptimal outcomes. On the other end of the spectrum, patients with some cancers (particularly breast and prostate) can have "poor nutrition" of an entirely different nature and actually experience excessive weight gain, which also is associated with poorer prognosis.

The bottom line, explains Dixon, is that "you can't lump all cancer patients together. Nutritionally speaking, the breadth of needs and issues in cancer is huge."


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