Nutrition Health Information and Cancer

Nutrition and Cancer

Author of this section is DeeAnn DeRoin, MD (Ioway Tribe)

  • Objectives:
    • To provide basic nutrition information for cancer patients undergoing treatment and for cancer survivors:
    • To present nutrition information about foods to help prevent cancer;
    • To provide nutrition information for coping with side effects of cancer treatment;
    • To provide nutrition information about managing other nutrition-related medical
    • problems while undergoing cancer treatment;
    • To provide nutrition information to promote and sustain cancer survivorship.
  • Nutrition myth:
    A common belief is that you should 'starve' your tumor. Nothing could be farther from the truth. While your treatments are working to slow or kill the tumor, you need to nourish your body as best you can.
  • Why is Nutrition Important?
    • You need nutrition to keep all the cells in your body healthy / especially while you're in treatment to get rid of your cancer..
    • You need nutrients to keep making healthy blood cells.
      • The red blood cells carry oxygen to your heart and brain and all parts of your body.
      • The white blood cells help fight infections.
      • And the platelets help clot your blood.
    • You can nourish your immune system to strengthen it, so it can continue to fight off your tumor: before treatment, during treatment and after treatment.
    • You want to keep all the tissues of your body in good condition:
      • Keeping your skin smooth and healthy helps prevent infections
      • Maintaining strong muscles, bones, and connective tissues (tendons and ligaments) helps prevent sprains and fractures, which can sideline your treatments.
    • You may need a little extra help knowing what to eat and drink, if you have other medical conditions, such as diabetes or high cholesterol or you can't eat or drink dairy products.
    • Learning to maintain good nutrition is something very positive that you can do for yourself while you're undergoing cancer treatment and years afterward. The knowledge you gain about nutrition will serve you well for years to come, long into cancer survivorship.