A common question: "Is there a diet that can cure me of my cancer?" or "Is there a diet that can keep cancer from growing?". Believe it or not, this is a complex question. Of course there are NO easy answers. Certainly not on this earth anyway! Hopefully I can give you an overview of the link between diet and cancer.
Remember that there is no one single food or food substances can protect you against cancer. The same is true for a cancer cure. There is no one single food or food substances that can cure your cancer.
What we know is that there are cancer control lifestyle factors that can do 2 things:
- Reduce your chances of getting cancer, or cancer coming back or growing.
- Improve your quality of life (personal satisfaction with your life).
Diet is only one aspect of a cancer control lifestyle. Other lifestyle factors to consider include smoking, exercise, stress management, sun exposure, alcohol and others. Making good lifestyle choices is not a guarantee that you won’t get cancer, or that your cancer will go away.
However, it can definitely put the odds in your favor. The good news is that there are no risks to eating healthy since the diet
that best reduces cancer risk also helps fight heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, Alzheimer’s and many other
diseases. In other words… We have NOTHING to lose by making smart nutrition choices!
The American Institute for Cancer Research (www.aicr.org) just released the Second Expert Report on Food, Nutrition, Physical Activity and the Prevention of Cancer: a Global Perspective. It is a very large book sitting on my shelf and I have not read the entire report! I did read the summary and here are the main take home points. Remember that cancer survivors are encouraged to following the same recommendations that we give for cancer prevention:
- Keep your weight under control. Meaning that you want to avoid weight gain or increases in waist circumference after age 21 (assuming that you were not underweight at that time!).
- Be physically active every day. I would aim for 30 minutes of vigorous activity or 60 minutes of moderate activity every day on average.
- Eat mostly foods of plant origin. For more information on those, check out my post on "Protectors".
- Limit intake of red meat and avoid processed meat. For more information on those, check out my post on "Promoters".
- Limit alcoholic drinks to 1/day for women; 2/day for men. (1 drink = 1 oz. liquor, 12 oz. beer, or 5oz. wine).
- Limit consumption of salt
- Dietary supplements are not recommended for cancer prevention. Aim to meet nutrition needs through food choices alone.
- Breastfeed infants exclusively up to 6 months and continue as they start eating food.
Until next time… Eat your fruits and veggies. Every meal and snacks to boot!
What is your advise on taking a multi-vitamin everyday? Is that a good supplement to healthy eating?
Good question! I usually address these questions in 2 ways. First what does evidence say (also known as the “politically correct answer”) and second, what do I actually try to do (also known as “julie’s way”). So here goes:
“PC Answer”: With multivitamins or supplements in general, they are fine as an insurance policy and never replace a healthy diet. Vegans will need to supplement with vitamin B12. When choosing a multi, choose one that doesn’t have more than 100% of anything (you can find those percentages on the bottle).
“Julie’s way”: Personally, I don’t take one. I can’t remember. I probably have one somewhere in the house. I might take it 10 times a year. Would I take one daily if I remembered. Probably…
Bottom Line: A regular multi or a calcium supplement is fine, but can’t replace everything you get from healthy eating.
Phew… never a simple answer! Thanks for the question!! -Julie