Cancer is a complex disease which has numerous etiological factors. There are different types of cancers named mainly after the organ or site of their origin. Like other lifestyle diseases, nutrition plays an important role in the prevention and management of cancer.
Nutritional Recommendations for Prevention of Cancer
- Maintain BMI in the vary of 18.5 – 25 kg/m2, and avoid weight gain in adulthood
- Engage in regular physical activity
- Consumption of alcoholic beverages isn’t recommended: if consumed, do not exceed 2 units/d (1 unit is equivalent to approximately10 g of alcohol and is provided by one glass of beer, wine or spirits)
- Minimize exposure to aflatoxin in foods.
- Chinese-style preserved fish ought to solely be consumed moderately, especially during childhood.
- Consumption of salt and salt-preserved foods should be moderate
- Have a diet which has a minimum of 400g/d of total fruit and vegetables
- Non –vegetarian people are suggested to moderate consumption of preserved meat (e.g. salami, Sausages, ham, bacon etc.) and red meat (e.g.beef, pork, lamb). Poultry and fish (except Chinese-style salted fish, have been studied and found not to be associated with increased cancer risk
- Do not consume foods or drinks that are too hot.
Nutritional Recommendations for Management of Cancer
The main objective of nutritional support in cancer is:
- To improve the overall quality of life.
- To strengthen the immunity
- To enhance strength and vigor
- To prevent undesirable weight loss or weight gain
- To correct the nutritional deficiencies.
- To help patients tolerate the treatment.
While a patient is undergoing cancer treatment there are various side effects which alter the appetite and food intake of the person. Therefore, it becomes important to retain the interest of the patient in food. The common side effects during treatment are and their nutritional management is as follows:
- Mouth sores: Foods soft in texture which are lukewarm or cold in temperature; avoid spicy & salty foods and foods with rough texture, avoid alcohol, caffeine, and tobacco.
- Dry mouth: Soft moist foods which are cool at room temperature, avoid sticky foods, Consume a lot of fluids, Suck on ice chips, Limit caffeine.
- Gum and dental problems: Avoid sugary and sticky food
- Difficulty in swallowing: Liquid/ semi-solid foods / mashed foods at frequent intervals.
- Altered taste sensitivity: Foods at cold or room temperature, the Attractive serving of dishes
- Bitter or metallic taste: Cooking in the microwave oven or glass utensils
- Nausea and vomiting: Small and frequent meals every 2-3 hours, Dry foods on waking up (toast, biscuits)
- Loss of appetite: Small meals or snacks every 2-3 hours. Soft, cold and frozen foods
- Diarrhea: Replenish electrolyte loss by consuming lots of fluids. Avoid high fiber food and caffeine
- Lactose intolerance: Avoid milk and milk products
- Unwanted weight gain: Avoid high fat and high sugar foods, the diet high in fiber (fruits and vegetable intake)
- Weight loss (Cachexia): Diet rich in protein and energy
Some Nutrients Significant for Prevention and Management of Cancer
Nutrients having anti-cancer properties; which has been scientifically established through recent researches. Each of them acts via different mechanisms.
- α & β- carotene: Found in yellow-orange, dark green vegetables and fruits
- Lycopene: Found in tomatoes, watermelon, apricot and peaches
- Lutein: Dark green leafy vegetables
- Β-Cryptoxanthin: Orange fruits
- Iso-thiocyanates: Broccoli, cauliflower, kale
- Flavonoids: Most of the plant-based foods
- Probiotics: Yogurt and fermented foods
- Fiber: Most fruits and vegetables
- Omega-3: Raw flaxseeds, Cold-pressed extra virgin flaxseed oil, fatty fish
- Selenium: Brazil nut
- Laetrile: Bitter apricot (suggested by some researches).
Various diet and lifestyle based alternative cancer treatments have also proven to be successful such as the ‘Budwig Protocol’. Nutrition plays a significant role in the prevention and management of cancer. Association between diet and cancer, specific foods and nutrients with cancer has been clinically investigated and a large scientific literature is available for the same. Such scientific studies have researched in detail about various modes of actions of these nutrients in preventing and regressing the growth of tumour cells. Therefore, maintaining a healthy diet is beneficial for Cancer patients.