Many studies demonstrate an association between poor diet and risk of cancer.

Other than smoking ces¬sation and exercise, a healthy diet is perhaps the most impor-tant lifestyle change a person can make to help reduce the risk of cancer.

If cancer has already developed, nutritional adequacy should be met through the use of a wide variety of whole foods. Many may also benefit from the use of dietary supplements.

Malnutrition may be caused by the cancer itself or by treatments including surgery, chemotherapy, radiation or immune therapy. Malnutrition adversely affects quality of life, limits or interrupts treatment, and may be life threatening if left untreated.

The use of complementary therapies, such as herbs and dietary supplements, is popular among cancer patients
A nutritional or dietary supplement is a product that may contain a combination of vitamins, minerals, herbs or other botanicals, amino acids, enzymes, and/or other ingredi¬ents intended to supplement the diet. Dietary supplements are usually natural products with a record of historical use. By law, the manufacturers are not allowed to claim that their product will diagnose, cure, miti¬gate, treat, or prevent a disease.

It is recommended that cancer patients who wish to use nutritional supplements and herbal medicines consult a trained health professional. During the consultation, the profes¬sional should provide support, discuss realistic expectations, and explore potential benefits and risks.

The use of antioxidants during cancer treatment is still controversial. Some argue that antioxidants scavenge the reactive oxygen species integral to the activity of certain chemotherapy drugs, thereby diminishing treatment efficacy. Others suggest that antioxidants may mitigate toxicity.

General recommendations to reduce the risk of cancer, improve outcome of treatment and reduce risk of recurrence:

  1. Be as lean as possible without becoming underweight.
  2. Be physically active for at least 30 minutes every day.
  3. Avoid sugar in all its forms.
  4. Limit consumption of energy-dense foods (particularly processed foods)
  5. Eat healthy fats – reduce animal fats, butter, and margarine. Good fats include monounsaturated fats, such as those found in olive oil, avocados, nuts, seeds and canola oil, and polyunsaturated fats, especially those rich in omega-3 fatty acids, found in fatty, cold-water fish (such as sardines, salmon, mackerel, anchovies, herring); eggs, milk and meat from farm animals fed omega-3 rich feed or from wild animals; flaxseeds, walnuts, walnut oil, canola oil, and green leafy vegetables. “Bad” fats include trans fats (found in partially and fully hydrogenated fats and frying oil) and fats high in omega-6 fatty acids (such safflower, sunflower, corn, soy or cottonseed oil).
  6. Limit the amount of dairy products in your diet.
  7. Eat a variety of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and legumes, such as beans.
  8. Limit consumption of red meats (such as beef, pork, and lamb) and avoid processed meats.
  9. If consumed at all, limit alcoholic drinks to two for men and one for women a day.
  10. Limit consumption of salty foods and foods processed with salt (sodium).
  11. Eat lots of anti-cancer fruits and vegetables such as berries and cabbage family vegetables.
  12. Avoid cancer-causing or promoting chemicals and hormones in foods and drinks and household products

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