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CANCER

FOODS THAT HARM

  • Foods that may contain pesticide residues and environmental pollutants

    FOODS THAT HEAL

  • Lean meat
  • Fish
  • Shellfish
  • Apples
  • Berries
  • Citrus fruit
  • Tomatoes
  • Onions and garlic
  • Green tea
  • Wheat bran and wheat germ
  • Brown rice
  • Brazil nuts

    FOODS TO LIMIT

  • Fatty foods, especially foods high in saturated fat
  • Alcohol
  • Foods that have been salt-cured, smoked, fermented, or charbroiled
    Research has dramatically changed our thinking about the role of diet in both the prevention and treatment of cancer
    Studies have shown that certain dietary elements may help promote the development and spread of malignancies, while others slow or block tumor growth
    Researchers estimate that at least 30% of all cancers in Western countries may be related to diet, especially one high in fat and processed foods; many of these cancers may be prevented with dietary changes

    TOP CANCER-FIGHTING FOODS

  • Dietary guidelines must take into account the stage and type of malignancy
    In most cases of early or localized cancer, people are generally advised to follow a diet that is low in fat, high in whole grain products and other starches, and high in fruits and vegetables
    Fats, especially from animal sources, are discouraged because they are believed to support tumor growth
    In contrast, fruits and vegetables contain an assortment of natural plant chemicals that are thought to retard the growth and spread of cancers
  • Protein is essential because it helps the body repair tissue that has been damaged during treatment of the disease and helps wound healing
    Apples, berries, broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables, and citrus fruits contain flavonoids, which act as antioxidants
    Flavonoids are also thought to prevent DNA damage to cells
    While no foods can cure cancer, research has identified several which seem best able to fight cancer:
  • Lean meat, low-fat dairy products, eggs, fish and shellfish, tofu and other soy products provide much- needed protein and zinc
    Because many people with cancer find that red meat takes on an unpleasant metallic taste, other sources of protein are best
  • Tomatoes and tomato products contain lycopene, which has been found to have protective effects against prostate cancer
  • Onions and garlic contain sulfur compounds that may stimulate the immune system’s natural defenses against cancer, and they may have the potential to reduce tumor growth
    Studies suggest that garlic can reduce the incidence of stomach cancer by a factor of 12
  • Green tea contains EGCG, a catechin that may help fight cancer in three ways: it may reduce the formation of carcinogens in the body, increase the body’s natural defenses, and suppress cancer promotion
    Some scientists believe that EGCG may be one of the most powerful anticancer compounds ever discovered
  • Brazil nuts, seafood, some meats and fish, bread, wheat bran, wheat germ, oats, and brown rice are the best sources of selenium, a trace mineral that is another powerful cancer-fighter
    A qualified dietitian should be part of any cancer treatment team, because both the disease and its treatment demand good nutrition as an aid to recovery
    Weight loss is common among those with cancer
    Most experience a loss of appetite as a result of the cancer itself; depression and pain may lessen any desire to eat
    Cancer treatments, especially radiation and chemotherapy, curb appetite and produce nausea and other side effects
    Surgery, too, can affect appetite and requires a highly nutritious diet for healing and recuperation

    Nutrition Connection

    Anyone can use the following recommendations to protect themselves against cancer
    For those under treatment for cancer, nutritional needs may vary; the box at left identifies top cancer-fighting foods but consult a doctor or dietitian to personalize your diet for your needs
    Eat more fruits and vegetables
    Studies associate a diet containing ample amounts of fruits and vegetables with a reduced risk of the most deadly cancers
    Foods such as apples, berries, and broccoli contain bioflavonoids and other plant chemicals, dietary fiber, folate, and antioxidants beta- carotene and vitamin C
    Reduce fat intake
    Numerous studies link a high-fat diet and obesity with an increased risk of cancers of the colon, uterus, prostate, skin (including melanoma, the most deadly form of skin cancer), and breast
    Experts stress that no more than 30% of total calories should come from fats, and many advocate a 20% limit on fat calories
    A few simple dietary changes can help lower fat intake: Choose lean cuts of meat and trim away all visible fat; eat vegetarian dishes several times a week; adopt low- fat cooking methods such as baking and steaming; and limit use of added fats such as butter, and oils
    Eat more fiber
    Increased intake of fiber may protect against certain types of cancer, such as colorectal cancer
    A high-fiber, low-calorie diet also protects against obesity and the increased risk of cancers linked to excessive body fat
    Limit processed foods
    People who eat large amounts of smoked, pickled, cured, fried, charcoal- broiled, and processed meats have a higher incidence of stomach and esophageal tumors
    Smoked foods contain polyaromatic hydrocarbons that are known carcinogens
    The salt in pickled foods can injure the stomach wall and facilitate tumor formation
    Nitrites, commonly found in bacon, hot dogs, and processed meats, can form nitrosamines, or established carcinogens
    However, consuming these foods along with good sources of vitamins C and E reduces the formation of nitrosamines
    Consult with a doctor before using supplements
    Although it seems wise to take supplements to prevent cancer, studies have established that high doses of them can actually increase damage caused by free radicals
    High doses of vitamin A can also lead to toxicity
    For those who are undergoing cancer treatment, it’s advisable to consult a physician or a dietician; different diagnoses and conditions require different levels of supplementation, if at all
    Approach alternative therapies with caution
    There is no scientific evidence to support the efficacy of consuming Japanese maitake, Chinese herbs, blue-green algae, or shark cartilage extracts to prevent or treat cancer

    Beyond the Diet

    Along with a healthy diet, breaking high-risk habits and living a healthy lifestyle can help shore up your defenses against cancer
    Stop smoking
    More than any other lifestyle factor, smoking increases the risk of cancer
    In addition to lung cancer, smoking is strongly associated with cancers of the esophagus, mouth, larynx, pancreas, and bladder, and an increased risk of breast cancer
    Limit your alcohol intake
    Heavy alcohol use is linked to increased risk of cancers of the mouth, larynx, esophagus, and liver
    Excessive alcohol consumption hinders the body’s ability to use beta- carotene, which appears to protect against these cancers
    Alcohol can also deplete reserves of folate, thiamine, and other B vitamins, as well as selenium, all crucial nutrients in protecting the body
    Exercise
    People who engage in moderate to vigorous physical activity have a lower risk of developing certain cancers, such as those of the breast, colon, and endometrium
    Physical activity also helps maintain a healthy body weight and prevents obesity, which has been linked to a number of cancers

    EATING WHEN YOU HAVE CANCER

    In many instances, loss of appetite, nausea, and other eating problems can be dealt with by changing daily habits and routines
    The following tips have worked for many people:
  • Plan your major meal for the time of day when you are least likely to experience nausea and vomiting
    For many, this is in the early morning
    Otherwise, eat small, frequent meals and snacks throughout the day
  • Let someone else prepare the food; cooking odors often provoke nausea
    Food that is served cold or at room temperature gives off less odor than hot food
  • If mouth sores are a problem, eat bland, pureed foods—for example, custards, rice and other puddings made with milk, and eggs, porridge, and blended soups
    Avoid salty, spicy, or acidic foods
    Sucking on zinc lozenges may speed the healing of mouth sores
  • Get dressed to eat with others in a pleasant social atmosphere and make meals visually attractive
  • To overcome nausea, try chewing on ice chips or sucking on a ginger candy or sour lemon drop before eating
    Sipping flat ginger ale or cola may also help
  • Rest for half an hour after eating, preferably in a sitting or upright position; reclining may trigger reflux, nausea, and vomiting
  • Pay extra attention to dental hygiene
    If mouth sores hinder tooth brushing, make a baking soda paste and use your finger and a soft cloth to gently cleanse the teeth
    Then rinse the mouth with a weak solution of hydrogen peroxide and baking soda
    Diluted commercial mouthwashes freshen the breath, but avoid full-strength products that can further irritate sores
    If a dry mouth makes swallowing difficult, liquefy foods in a blender or moisten them with low-fat
  • milk, sauces, or gravies
  • If diarrhea is a problem (as is often the case during chemotherapy), avoid fatty foods, raw fruits, whole grain products, and other foods that can make it worse
    Instead, eat bland, binding foods, such as rice, bananas, cooked apples, and dry toast
  • A few slices of a colorful fruit give visual appeal to a bowl of oatmeal; a colorful napkin and bud vase perk up a tray of food