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Tough Tomatoes and Cancer-fighting Cabbage

Posted on Tuesday, May 16, 2017
There are many reasons to eat healthy and exercise, and fighting cancer can be added to that list.

Nutrition plays an increasingly evident role in preventing and treating cancer. Lifestyle and behaviors could prevent an estimated 30 to 40 percent of all cancers. Just as smoking and overexposure to the sun is known to contribute to certain types of cancer, growing research shows that obesity, certain cooking methods, and lack of certain nutrients also increases the risk of cancer. Not only that, increasing the intake of some cancer-fighting nutrients can improve outcomes for those undergoing treatment. A third medical aspect of nutrition in cancer is that cancer can decrease patient’s ability or desire to eat. In these cases, nutrition support while undergoing treatment saves lives.

Nutrition in Cancer Prevention

Obesity and overconsumption of calories is a major risk factor for many types of cancer. Increased inflammation, increases in insulin, and hormonal changes all caused by obesity also foster cancer growth. Processed meats and a chemical residue called PHIP produced by charbroiling foods may also increase cancer risks. On the other hand, nutrients like lycopene, antioxidants, and beta-carotene can help prevent cancer. Diets rich in fiber, fruits and vegetables (especially leafy green vegetables and tomatoes), and low in refined sugars help in the fight against cancer.

Nutrition During Treatment

Continuing to focus on getting these key cancer-fighting nutrients during treatment can improve the patient’s health and quality of life. Both cancer and treatment options like chemotherapy can make it hard for patients to get in enough nutrition. Patients undergoing treatment should work closely with a registered dietician. Sometimes people need enteral feeding (through a tube inserted into the stomach or intestine) or parenteral nutrition (nutrients are infused in the blood stream through a venous tube). This prevents the patient from becoming malnourished while strengthening the body’s defenses against cancer.

There are many reasons to eat healthy and exercise, and fighting cancer can be added to that list. Watching weight, eating fruits and vegetables, and avoiding simple carbohydrates and sugars can help prevent cancer, while working with a dietician and getting appropriate nutrition can also help those with cancer to heal and recover.