The Right Diet For People With Cancer

The right diet for people with cancer must consist of fruit and vegetables, boosting their intake of antioxidants. We'll tell you what scientific research has to say about the subject.
The Right Diet For People With Cancer

Last update: 13 September, 2020

Cancer is a complex illness that depends on both genetic and environmental factors. Diet can influence the risk of this pathology developing and, at the same time, patients will require chemotherapy treatment. When it comes to establishing the right diet for people with cancer, it’s important to have a series of guidelines in mind. For example, it’s fundamental that patients restrict foods and substances that contribute to tumoral growth.

At the same time, it’s important to emphasize the consumption of products with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. This series of ingredients will maximize the effects of chemotherapy and reduce the side effects of this same treatment.

Eliminate the intake of processed foods

Eating processed foods that are rich in additives, simple sugars, and trans fats is related to an increased risk of developing cancer. An article in the British Medical Journal explains this relationship.

These types of substances increase the number of mutations generated on a cellular level. What’s more, they serve as an energy substrate for the same tumor, contributing to its growth. For these reasons, restricting these processed products in patients that have received a cancer diagnosis is fundamental.

While cutting processed foods out of a healthy person’s diet has a preventative nature, doing so in oncological patients can increase their life expectancy. This has to do with an increase in the chances of these patients responding favorably to treatment.

Cancer patients should cut out ultra-processed foods.

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The right diet for people with cancer should contain antioxidant foods

Antioxidants are substances that counteract the formation of free radicals. They combat oxidative stress and reduce the risk of mutations in the DNA that can lead to cancerous processes. Consuming them on a regular basis helps prevent the development of these types of pathologies.

In patients that already have this illness, it’s crucial they increase their intake of these products in the hope of stopping tumoral growth. Some phytonutrients, like the lycopene present in tomatoes, could help to slow down the growth of the tumor. An article published in the journal Nutrition and Cancer confirms this fact.

In order to increase antioxidant intake, patients must increase the number of fruits and vegetables in their diet. What’s more, they should especially increase their intake of red vegetables as well as cruciferous vegetables.

Exotic fruits, at the same time, are characterized for being rich in vitamins and phytonutrients. Therefore, they can help meet the objective of fighting against the products of cellular oxidation. Variety is key when it comes to the right diet for people with cancer.

Supplements in the diet for people with cancer

Furthermore, there are some substances that, in the form of supplements, can help people with cancer. One of them is melatonin, a hormone responsible for regulating circadian sleep rhythms that has significant antioxidant power.

The effects of this supplement have been demonstrated in scientific literature. For example, they’re reflected in an article published in the journal Oncotarget.

That being said, these benefits are found in doses superior to those used today on a clinical level. Studies regarding melatonin and the prevention or treatment of cancer use doses that are superior to 10 milligrams per day.

What’s more, this hormone manages to reduce the side effects associated with pharmacological treatment. Therefore, it improves sleep, reduces stress levels, and improves the markers having to do with metabolic health.

A healthy plate of food.
When it comes to a diet for people with cancer, it’s important to include a good variety of fruits and vegetables that contain antioxidants

Optimizing nutrition is essential when it comes to cancer patients

Cancer is a multifactorial illness that’s directly related to certain environmental factors. Therefore, patients need to optimize their diet in order to prevent the development of this pathology as well as to help treat it.

The right intake of nutrients is capable of stopping the growth of tumors and maximizing the effects of pharmacological treatment. In order to see these benefits, it’s important to emphasize the importance of consuming fruits and vegetables. These foods contain vitamins and phytonutrients with an elevated antioxidant capacity.

What’s more, restricting all foods that produce inflammation and have the capacity to increase mutagenicity is fundamental. For example, processed foods. This class of substances has negative mid and long-term effects on health and is linked to the development of complex illnesses.

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  • Fiolet T., Srour B., Sellem L., Kesse Guyot E., et al., Consumption of ultra processed foods and cancer risk: results from NutriNet- Santé prospective cohort. BMJ, 2018.
  • Athreya K., Xavier MF., Antioxidants in the treatment of cancer. Nutr Cancer, 2017. 69 (8): 1099-1104.
  • Li Y., Li S., Zhou Y., Meng X., et al., Melatonin for the prevention and treatment of cancer. Oncotarget, 2017. 8 (24): 39896-39921.