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Nutrition & Cancer

Nutrition plays a critical role in supporting women during cancer by maintaining strength and energy levels, supporting treatment tolerance, promoting healing and recovery, boosting immune function, managing side effects, improving emotional well-being, and supporting long-term health. It is an essential component of comprehensive cancer care and should be integrated into treatment plans alongside medical interventions and supportive therapies

Nutrition plays a multifaceted role in supporting women with cancer throughout their treatment journey, from enhancing treatment tolerance and promoting healing to improving quality of life and overall outcomes. It is an integral component of comprehensive cancer care and should be prioritised alongside medical interventions and supportive therapies. Nutrition can play a vital role in:

Supporting treatment tolerance

Cancer treatments such as chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and surgery can take a toll on the body, leading to side effects like nausea, vomiting, fatigue, and loss of appetite. Adequate nutrition provides essential nutrients and energy to help women tolerate these treatments better and maintain their strength and vitality.

 

Enhancing immune function

A well-balanced diet rich in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and phytonutrients supports a robust immune system, which is essential for fighting off infections and supporting the body's natural defense mechanisms during cancer treatment.

 

Promoting healing and recovery

Proper nutrition is crucial for tissue repair, wound healing, and recovery from surgery or other invasive procedures commonly used in cancer treatment. Nutrient-rich foods provide the building blocks necessary for cellular repair and regeneration, aiding in the body's recovery process.

Managing side effects

Nutrition strategies tailored to manage common side effects of cancer treatment, such as nausea, diarrhoea, constipation, taste changes, and weight loss, can significantly improve the quality of life for women undergoing treatment. Certain foods and dietary adjustments can help alleviate symptoms and improve comfort and well-being.

 

Maintaining strength and energy levels

Cancer and its treatments can lead to fatigue and weakness, making it challenging for women to carry out daily activities and maintain their quality of life. Adequate nutrition, including sufficient calorie and protein intake, helps sustain energy levels, support muscle strength, and improve overall vitality.

 

Optimising treatment outcomes

Research suggests that good nutrition may positively impact treatment outcomes and survival rates for women with cancer. Proper nourishment supports the effectiveness of cancer therapies and may reduce the risk of treatment interruptions or complications.

Improving emotional well-being

Eating well and nourishing the body can have positive effects on mental and emotional health, helping women feel more in control, resilient, and better able to cope with the challenges of cancer diagnosis and treatment.

The World Cancer Research Fund based at Imperial College is THE authority on how diet, nutrition and physical activity affect cancer risk and survival. Its nutritional recommendations to minimise the risk of developing cancer are as follows:
 

  • Maintain a healthy weight

  • Be physically active 

  • Eat wholegrains, vegetables, fruit and beans

  • Limit fast foods

  • Limit red and processed meat

  • Limit sugar sweetened beverages

  • Limit alcohol consumption

  • Do not use supplements for cancer prevention
     

Further reading can be found here at the WCRF website
 

Nutrition recommendations during cancer treatment depends on cancer type, stage and location and nutritional strategies will be directed by a patient’s medical team depending on individual circumstances. People living with cancer should be very wary of claims that a particular diet can treat cancer. From a recent review paper on the topic: 

‘...these diets include pseudo-scientific rationales for their anti-cancer properties, limited evidence that they improve cancer outcomes, the possibility for nutrient insufficiencies, and elimination of food groups proven beneficial for cancer prevention and general health.’ 

 

Further reading at the National Library of Medicine 


The WCRF has concluded that the current evidence suggests that the most effective way to prevent recurrence among cancer survivors is to follow the cancer prevention recommendations for the whole population as outlined above.

 

Spread of healthy food items including bread and vegetables

Getting Started

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If you're ready to improve your nutrition and overall health but you're not sure where to start, book a free discovery call with us. During this call, we can discuss your needs and goals and help you decide on the best course of action. Don't let the first step hold you back, let's take it together!

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