How Does Diet Affect Cancer Treatment or Prevention?

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cancer diet

Diet and cancer are linked in a number of ways. For example, what you eat can impact your risk of developing cancer. And if you have cancer and are preparing for or undergoing treatment, your food choices may help you tolerate the treatments better. So, learning more about a “cancer diet” can be very helpful.

What Foods Help to Prevent Cancer?

Generally speaking, a cancer prevention diet is similar to any type of diet that promotes health and wellness and helps prevent other diseases like diabetes and heart disease. If you want to lower your risk, it’s great to know that you can eat certain foods to avoid cancer. These include:

● Vegetables. Vegetables contain a wide variety of plant compounds, many of which have anti-cancer properties.
● Fruit. Fruit, in general, is a healthy food choice, and berries, in particular, have plant pigments called anthocyanins that may be associated with a lower cancer risk.
● Whole grains. Foods high in dietary fiber, like whole grains, can decrease the risk of colorectal cancer.
● Healthy fats. In addition to having healthy fats, beans and nuts are a good source of fiber and also have plant compounds that may help the body defend itself against cancer.
● Fish. Fish such as salmon, anchovies, and mackerel contain omega-3 fatty acids that may lower your cancer risk.
See a full list of foods that are shown to lower the risk of cancer.

What Foods Cause Cancer?

While there are many cancer-fighting foods, there are also certain cancer-causing foods. These foods have been shown in medical studies to increase cancer risk. They include:

● Sugar. Some experts believe that sugar consumption can affect the development and progression of some types of cancer cells.
● Refined carbohydrates. Complex carbohydrates are better for you than refined or simple carbs.
● Processed meat. Meats that have been salted, smoked or have had flavors or preservatives added increase cancer risk.
● Overcooked food. When meat is grilled or cooked at high temperatures, amino acids in the meat can form carcinogenic compounds.
● Dairy. Studies differ on the effect of dairy foods on cancer, but some suggest that it may increase the risk of certain types of cancer.

What Is the Best Food to Eat If You Have Cancer?

If you have cancer, you can help your body tolerate your treatment by eating the right diet for cancer patients. Some of the best food for cancer patients includes:

● Lean meat, chicken and fish. These foods are good sources of the protein your body needs to repair the damage that occurs with cancer treatments.
● Eggs. Like meat, eggs are a great way to get protein.
● Beans and nuts. Your body needs plenty of “good fat” for energy, to support cell growth and to help it absorb certain nutrients.
● Whole grains. These foods have fiber and a variety of nutrients.

What Food Should Cancer Patients Avoid?

Eating a healthy diet is important when you have cancer. That includes knowing about foods for cancer patients to avoid. Consuming healthy foods and eliminating unhealthy foods from your diet can provide the nutrition your body needs and also help with the side effects of chemotherapy or radiation.

Here are some foods to avoid:

● Sugar
● Caffeine
● Salty foods
● Alcohol
● Red meat
● Raw fish
● Food or beverages that have been unpasteurized

Learn More About Diet & Cancer from Baptist Health

Take a Health Risk Assessment (HRA) questionnaire to estimate your personal health risk and identify your risk factors for cancer-based on your diet.