Cancer patients have different nutrition needs than the general public. When people have cancer, they must eat enough food to maintain their strength and energy. Good nutrition helps them fight their illness and the side effects of treatment.
Unfortunately, cancer makes healthy eating difficult for most people. Chemotherapy, radiation and other therapies are aggressive in their fight against cancer cells. Along the way, these treatments also damage healthy cells and cause debilitating side effects. Many of them involve diet and appetite
Good nutrition is i.mportant during all phases of cancer, from diagnosis and treatment to recovery. The foods that are recommended for cancer patients, however, are not always the same as those advised for healthy people. Patients should talk to their doctors or dietitians about their special nutrition needs.
Before Cancer Treatment
Most cancer patients consider diet and nutrition in relation to cancer treatment. However, good nutrition starts before treatment. The benefits of nutrition for cancer prevention are well documented. Many vitamins, minerals and other nutrients have amazing anti-cancer effects.
According to the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR), diets that are filled with fruits, vegetables and whole grains may lower the risk of certain types of cancer. From vitamins and minerals to fiber and antioxidants, these foods have numerous cancer-fighting properties.
During Cancer Treatment
Good nutrition is especially important during cancer treatment. Certain treatments cause side effects that make eating difficult. This can make it extremely hard to get adequate nourishment, especially for those who are dealing with mesothelioma treatment side effects and other advanced cancers.
Among the common eating problems associated with cancer treatment are nausea, vomiting, appetite loss, constipation, diarrhea, mouth sores, dry mouth, sore throat and lactose intolerance. Some patients gain weight during treatment, while others lose too much weight.
Fortunately, many side effects can be controlled. Not everyone has eating problems during cancer treatment, but those who do can take medicines to cope. Doctors and dietitians can work with patients to help them find palatable, nutritious foods. According to the National Cancer Institute (NCI), patients should eat as much protein and calories as possible.
After Cancer Treatment
Nutrition needs do not end when the cancer treatment ends, but the needs may change over time. A good cancer recovery diet provides important nutrients during cancer treatment and beyond. Research shows that good nutrition and exercise prevents cancer recurrence and promotes lifelong health.
Diets that are rich in fruits and vegetables and sparse in animal fat have been shown to lower the recurrence rates for breast, colon and stomach cancer. Antioxidants like beta-carotene and vitamins A, C and E protect the body from free radicals that are linked to cancer and aging.
On another note, overweight is a risk factor for many types of cancer. It increases the chance of recurrence and lowers the survival odds. Diets that are high in fruits, vegetables and whole grains and low in animal protein and fat promote weight loss and overall healthier living.
DAVID HAAS: Joining the MCA in 2011, David Haas is the Director of Awareness Programs. In addition to researching much of the information available to our site’s visitors, David often blogs about programs available and campaigns underway at the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance. David is a fitness enthusiast who frequently runs, climbs, and bikes for enjoyment. He is also very involved in outreach associated with awareness about the dangers of asbestos for many different organizations and groups of people.
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