Advise Ca Patients on Food Choices

ECCO11: Cancer Patients Need Regular Advice About What to Eat

LISBON, PORTUGAL -- October 24, 2001 -- Misconceptions about what they should eat can result in cancer patients having the wrong kind of food, which may decrease their physical functioning and compromise their quality of life. Dr. A. Bonde Jensen, of Copenhagen University Hospital announced these findings today to an audience at the 11th European Cancer Conference (ECCO11) in Lisbon, Portugal.

Most of the 1036 cancer patients in a nationwide survey in Denmark favoured vegetables and low calorie food, explained Dr. Jensen. But cancer patients' dietary needs may change according to the stage of their disease.

Underweight patients may be encouraged to eat fatty foods and snack whenever they feel the urge to eat because being significantly underweight may be a bigger threat to recovery than the distant risk of stroke or a heart attack.

Ann's NOTE:Trained nutritionists believe it matters what you eat at EVERY stage. There are healthy fats and those less healthy. NIH has published on healthier fats and many articles can be found in our Relevant Studies section.

Conversely, patients well on the way to recovery may be advised to eat a traditionally healthy diet, with plenty of fruit and vegetables, more fish and chicken and less red meat, foods high in natural fibre, less sugar and salt and moderate amounts of alcohol.

Dr. Jensen highlighted the need to improve dietary counseling for cancer patients in hospital. Carried out with two colleagues the survey established that: -- Nearly two thirds of the sample (63 percent) in the study had changed their eating habits since developing cancer.

Nearly three quarters (71 percent) were taking nutritional supplements (significantly more women than men). -- A fifth (20 percent) of the sample thought that nutrition was very important in terms of affecting the course of cancer. -- Only 8.5 percent thought that nutrition did not have any influence at all.

Confusion about what is best for cancer patients may be related to the idea that a healthy diet can reduce the risk of getting cancer. This is now universally accepted. The question as to whether diet can affect the course of an established cancer is more controversial. But specialists agree that underweight cancer patients should avoid slimming diets.

"There is a need for more knowledge about nutritional aspects in cancer diseases, especially when the disease has metastasized, both among patients and health care providers.

Today the quality of life of patients is too often further compromised by inappropriate food intake," Dr. Jensen concluded.

SOURCE: Federation of European Cancer Societies

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