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Nutrition and Cancer

Good nutrition is important in general, but can also have positive benefits for cancer patients and survivors. Some form of exercise and a diet that places an emphasis on certain foods is recommended for most cancer patients. Nutrition therapy is used to build up strength and help a cancer patient withstand the toll that cancer treatments can take on the body.

Early studies focused on breast cancer, but have expanded to include patients diagnosed with mesothelioma, lung cancer, and other forms of cancer. Research shows that the effects of cancer and cancer treatments can change the way certain nutrients are absorbed and can make it difficult for patients to eat the right foods. Surgery, stem cell transplants, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy are just some of the cancer treatments that may have these effects. Side effects of cancer treatments that may influence eating habits include dry mouth, a loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, and constipation. It’s important to note that medication may be necessary to treat these issues before beginning nutrition therapy.

As with any treatment, cancer patients should discuss their condition with their doctor to determine if nutrition therapy can be beneficial. A healthy diet in general should include a balance of vitamins, minerals, proteins, healthy fats, carbohydrates and water. Nutrition therapy doesn’t focus on weight loss as a main goal. In terms of benefits to cancer patients, the focus is on getting the right balance of nutrients to boost the body’s strength and ability to tolerate treatment. Patients who are well nourished tend to have more energy to combat treatment effects and be more receptive to the benefits of certain treatments. Cancer-related fatigue is the most common side effect of treatments spanning all forms of cancer.

According to the National Cancer Institute, about 35% of all cancers have some connection to nutrition. Before making dietary changes, other causes of symptoms like fatigue, nausea, and loss of appetite should be eliminated or addressed. The reason for the loss of nutrients in the first place is due to the way cancer cells behave. In addition to using healthy cells to multiply, cancer also strips cells of their nutrients. This results in a lack of energy that makes it harder to endure some cancer treatments. It is even estimated that a healthy diet may prevent about half of all forms of cancer. However, no single food can fight cancer alone. A variety of essential nutrients from foods produce beneficial results.

source: Jillian Mckee / Contributor.. (Thank you for your Contribution to the Blog)

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