Cancer Introduction Chapter 16

Fight It with Food


Eat Your Veggies

Fighting cancer can be delicious! You can help protect yourself from cancer simply by eating certain foods and limiting others. It’s estimated that diet causes about one third of all cancer cases, almost as many as tobacco. Cancer is strongly associated with chronic inflammation, and eating foods that fight inflammation helps to protect you from getting many forms of cancer. READ MORE

Chief among cancer-protective foods are fruits and vegetables. They contain numerous cancer-preventing, anti-inflammatory chemicals, including:

  • Carotenoids, especially lycopene, found in watermelon, guava, grapefruit, and tomatoes

  • Resveratrol, found in grapes, peanuts, and berries

  • Quercitin, found in red grapes, citrus fruits, tomatoes, broccoli, and leafy green vegetables as well as tea and wine

  • Sulforane, found in cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli



Teas and Spices

Spice up your life! Cancer-fighting chemicals are found in teas and many spices, including:

  • Green tea

  • Turmeric

  • Garlic

  • Chilies

  • Ginger

  • Fenugreek

  • Fennel

  • Clove

  • Cinnamon

  • Rosemary



Whole Grains and Omega-3s

Be sure to eat whole grains instead of refined grains—for instance, eat brown rice, not white rice, and choose 100% wholewheat bread over white bread. Whole grains contain numerous potent antioxidants, such as vitamin E and phenolic acid, and are rich in fiber, which speeds the transit of food through the colon. Refined grains are stripped of their fiber and most of their cancer-preventive nutrients. For instance, vitamin E is reduced by as much as 92%. Studies have shown that eating whole grains reduces your risk of colorectal cancer. READ MORE

Fatty fish, like albacore tuna, salmon, halibut, mackerel, lake trout, and sardines, are rich in anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids. Eating oily fish has been linked to a lower incidence of breast and prostate cancer. Flax seeds are high in omega-3s as well. Fish-oil and flaxseed oil supplements are available if you prefer to consume them in that form. LESS


What NOT to Eat

Eating certain foods has been linked to higher rates of cancer:
  • Processed meats, such as luncheon meats and hot dogs, are usually preserved with nitrites and nitrates. These chemicals are known to be powerful carcinogens.

  • Trans fats and saturated fats have inflammatory properties, and diets high in these fats are associated with higher rates of cancer. Use olive oil whenever possible and don’t eat packaged baked goods, fried fast foods, or packaged snacks that contain trans fats, usually labelled as hydrogenated vegetable oils.

  • Refined sugar and white flour raise glucose and insulin levels and also the risk of cancer.

  • Red meat, when heavily consumed, is associated with higher rates of cancer. If you eat red meat, don’t cook it over very high heat and don’t eat it every day. Choose grass-fed beef, which is higher in omega-3 fatty acids and lower in fat than grain-fed beef. Meat and dairy products from grass-fed animals are the richest known source of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA). Studies have found that CLA reduces cancer risk. Grain-fed cows are given a diet heavy in antibiotics and, often, growth hormones.



The Cancer Patient Diet

Maintaining weight while undergoing treatment for cancer can be difficult: patients may experience lack of appetite, nausea, vomiting, constipation, and diarrhea. But stabilizing body weight is very important, because doing so can help to support the immune system, lessen fatigue, and aid recovery. It helps to:

  • Focus on quality, not quantity, of food.

  • Drink nutritious beverages like milkshakes and liquid supplements.

  • Eat a number of small meals a day, not three big ones.

  • Keep high-calorie snack foods handy.

  • Drink fluids between meals instead of with them.


The material on this site is for informational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice. It should not be used to diagnose or treat any medical condition. Consult a licensed medical professional for the diagnosis and treatment of all medical conditions and before starting a new diet or exercise program. If you have a medical emergency, call 911 immediately.