Diet & Cancer

August 7, 2009

Recently, I have learned about more and more individuals living and dying of cancer.  There are many different types of cancer, some deadlier than others.  But, regardless of type, a healthy diet may help to prevent the disease and/or manage its symptoms.  Richard Moyle, National Awareness Coordinator of the Mesothelioma Center asked if he could post his article, related to diet and cancer, on this site. I hope you enjoy!

The National Cancer institute has stated that at least 35 percent of all cancer cases are related to poor nutrition. Though mesothelioma is not a cancer that is related to poor nutrition, improving nutritional intake can help mesothelioma cancer patients fight the disease.

Mesothelioma is a rare type of cancer that typically affects the lining of the lungs, heart and abdomen. It is caused primarily by exposure to a naturally occurring mineral known as asbestos. The symptoms of mesothelioma can take up to 50 years to become noticeable and typically the disease is diagnosed in advanced stages when treatment options are limited.

In addition to improving chances of survival, proper dietary care can help relieve the painful or uncomfortable symptoms of mesothelioma. Naturally, this depends on the stage of the cancer, but improving symptoms can improve quality of life—even if the cancer is severe.

One of the most common side effects of mesothelioma and mesothelioma treatment is nausea. There are a number of dietary changes you can make to help this problem. Dry grain products like crackers and toast can help calm an upset stomach. Bland foods will also help with nausea, as well as acid reflux problems.

Berries can be very helpful as they contain a whole host of important nutrients, including plenty of fiber and vitamin C. In fact, just one cup of strawberries has the same amount of vitamin C as one cup of orange juice, and all berries are great sources of this anti-oxidant and immune-strengthening vitamin. In addition to essential vitamins, berries are packed with several different types of cancer-fighting nutrients. In one study, extracts of six types of berries were tested for their ability to prevent the growth and spread of different types of cancer cells. Amazingly, each different type of berry was found to have an entirely unique combination of phytonutrients, and all six varieties of berry extract were able to kill cancer cells in the laboratory.

Dark green leafy vegetables are also bursting with essential vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients that provide important cancer-fighting benefits. They contain Beta-carotene, Lutein, and Zeaxanthin which are powerful antioxidants that help protect the body against all forms of cancer by destroying free radicals. Folate and phytochemicals can also help fight cancer by repairing DNA and boosting levels of enzymes that help cleanse the body of carcinogens. You can benefit from these anitoxidants by eating things like kale, collard greens, spinach and romaine lettuce.

Another common characteristic found in cancer patients is low white blood cell count, which increases the chance of contracting an infection. To avoid this side effect, a number of changes can be made in the foods you ingest. It is most important to avoid “bad” bacteria, which is common in foods that are damaged or not prepared well. Avoid buffets when eating out, wash your hands before preparing meals, avoid raw meats and fish (like sushi), and throw away any foods that are bruised or damaged.

Cancer is a complex medical condition, with many factors playing various roles in development and treatment. However, most patients will undoubtedly benefit from a better diet in a number of ways

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