Specific Nutritional Issues for Survivors

Specific Nutritional Issues for Cancer Survivors

Food Safety

Food safety is of special concern for cancer survivors, especially during episodes of iatrogenic immunosuppression. During any immunosuppressive cancer treatments, patients should be particularly careful to avoid eating foods that may contain unsafe levels of pathogenic microorganisms.28 To make food as safe as possible, patients should follow the general guidelines for food safety as shown in Table 2. (Suggestions here include washing hands, food, utensils, cutting boards, store raw meat (if you eat it) separately, refrigerate foods to prevent bacteria growth, drink safe water and generally avoid salad bars).

Caloric Intake

In the past, some researchers and health care providers believed that nutritional intake should be severely restricted to effectively treat cancer. This theory, which was based on the notion that starvation would deprive a growing tumor of needed nutrition, is now known to be wrong. Current research and clinical practice have clearly shown that starvation does not increase survival, but is detrimental in the face of the cancer survivorís high nutritional needs during and after therapy.29-31 Cancer survivors should therefore be encouraged to consume enough calories (as protein, carbohydrate and fat) to maintain weight and optimal body nutrient stores.8-11

Body Weight Changes

Cancer survivors may gain or lose body weight during treatment and recovery. Any weight loss prior to or during treatment may adversely affect nutritional well-being. Even though there are health risks related to obesity32 and even though newly diagnosed cancer patients are often strongly motivated to begin healthy habits, intentional weight loss during cancer treatment is not recommended. Weight reduction should only be attempted after the active treatment and recovery phases are complete.

Cancer and its treatment can place extra demands on the body, greatly increasing nutrient and caloric needs. Studies of protein metabolism in cancer patients have shown elevations of whole-body protein turnover and skeletal muscle wasting.33,34

Weight loss can contribute to fatigue, delay and lengthen recovery, and adversely affect quality of life.35 The line between healthy and unhealthy weight loss can be difficult to recognize for both survivors and health care professionals. All survivors, even those who are overweight, should be advised to maintain their weight during therapy. Whether overweight survivors who experience treatment-related weight gain worsen their prognosis as a result of that weight gain is unknown.

Some cancer survivors, especially breast cancer survivors, may gain weight during and after treatment. Menopausal status, nodal status, and the type, duration, and intensity of treatment influence such weight gains.36 In these situations, a healthy eating plan that meets, but does not exceed, caloric needs is advisable, along with increased physical activity. Even moderate physical activity can lead to an improved sense of well-being, improved strength, and weight stabilization in times of stress.

Maintaining body weight within healthy ranges may help reduce risks of a variety of chronic diseases including coronary heart disease and diabetes, as well as cancer.2,32

Healthy weight loss is best initiated after the recovery phase. Obesity has been associated with both increased risk and poorer prognosis of cancers of the breast and colon.37-43


Dietary Fats

Lowering animal fats is worthwhile

Fruits and Vegetables

And we recommend ORGANIC

Alcohol

None is best,of course

Dietary Regimens

Fasting, Juicing, Vegetariansm, Macrobiotic


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