Article Written By Jenny Morris – Researcher and Editor in Nutritional Studies for Cancer.
Genetic information is more available than ever to a generation concerned with family history and health risks. While a person’s DNA may increase the chances of certain types of malignancies, researchers also blame cancer-causing substances, or carcinogens, and viruses for cell damage that leads to the disease. Factors can be environmental, biological, occupational or lifestyle-related, and most cases stem from a variety of causes. A clean lifestyle lowers some of these risks, and various diets are becoming known for their ability to prevent illness.
Some cancers are easier to prevent than others. Radon, an odorless gas linked to lung cancer, can be prevented by installing mitigation systems in homes and workplaces. While it may be harder to get rid of asbestos in old buildings or products, doing so can eliminate the risk of a deadly cancer of the lungs called mesothelioma. Studies show that tobacco causes up to 30 percent of cancers, diet causes up to 35 percent, and infections lead to around to 20 percent. Others can be attributed to lack of exercise, stress, radiation and environmental hazards. One study suggests that obesity in young people may be a cause.
Cancer Affects Daily Life
Having an illness like cancer makes it harder to practice healthy habits. With symptoms and side effects that range from digestive issues and nausea to pain and inability to taste or smell, exercising and eating the right foods can be difficult. Exhaustion and side effects from treatment make it harder to keep up an exercise routine. A leading cancer center says a healthy diet helps patients:
The Best Diets for Cancer Patients
While there is no magical diet that prevents cancer or its recurrence, recommendations from doctors make recovery easier. Because cancer patients are more likely to get infections during recovery, germ control and cleanliness are important. Nutritionists can help patients plan personalized diets to fit their specific needs.
Doctors often recommend shakes with nutritional supplements for patients in recovery, and choices range from ready-to-go drinks to mixes and powders that are easily prepared and varied in dairy content and calories. The Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center gives patients a list of supplements that mix with other foods or can be used alone.
Dr. Emily S. Tonorezos, an internist who follows up with cancer patients at Sloan Kettering, recommends eating less red meat and cutting out salted, preserved or smoked meats. Fish can substitute for meat, but beans are better. Cancer patients should eat a lot of whole fruit and eliminate processed snacks and food with preservatives, stabilizers or flavor enhancers. Dr. Tonorezos does not recommend alcohol.
While no single food can prevent cancer, Medical News Today recommends seven foods for their strong cancer-fighting powers: berries, apples, carrots, fatty fish, cruciferous vegetables, legumes and walnuts. The article reminds readers that research is preliminary, and many of the studies involved lab animals. It is clear, however, that a diet rich in healthy fats, vegetables and fresh fruits improves overall health.
Medical specialists at Dana Farber Cancer Center agree that these foods, as well as others like algae, turmeric and acai berries, can be helpful in the fight against cancer, but they recommend focusing on them as a group that makes up 50 percent of the diet. Like other cancer specialists, they agree that diet is important but suggest moderation and clean eating.