Nutrition and the Cancer Patient

ShadyGuy Member Posts: 875 Member

I have come to the conclusion (opinion only - I am not a doctor) that one of the biggest misconceptions about cancer is that it is treated as some kind of foreign invader when in fact it is not foreign at all. Cancer is part of you just the same as healthy tissue. This struggle is a civil war - brother against brother. That leads me to think that the old saying “feed the patient, feed the cancer” may have a grain of truth. Whatever is good for the healthy lymphocytes is also good for the cancerous ones! That (in my non-professional opinion at least) means that especially with lymphoma (which is really a rebellious immune system) food and supplements to “strengthen the immune system” may well be counterproductive. In my way of thinking the emphasis on fruits and vegetables especially may also be counterproductive. Should the diet emphasize proteins and not so much vitamins? Steroids used in treatment can actually increase your appetite and increase your weight which means more raw material for building new rogue lymphocytes. After all cancer cells are not manufactured from thin air - they require raw materials to assemble their clones - food. My docs said avoid all supplements during treatment. Could that be extended to say a restricted diet may be beneficial to the cancer patient? My purpose in this post is to stimulate a discussion on the matter of nutritions role, not to state facts. I am not a doctor. Please chime in with your thoughts.


  • po18guy
    po18guy Member Posts: 1,440 Member

    This is the conundrum. Healthy immune systems are ideal - except when they are not. Cancer occurs when transcription errors occur in DNA replication as cells divide and replace themselves before dying off. Some errors are externally caused or influenced. Some seemingly occur spontaneously - many if not most being of unknown genesis. As the human genome progresses, as generation replaces generation, DNA errors tend to accumulate. Yet, not all errors are transmitted in human reproduction. While a single mutation can ctrigger a malignincy, multiple mutations can be more likely. Where, when, how and why we developed the mutations is the question.

    Some folks smoke and eat horribly and are never afflicted. Others, even lifetime vegans, develop malignancy. If technology progresses sufficiently, we may someday know what our individual risk factors are. However, even then, spontaneous mutations cannot be predicted. Most of the question remains a mystery. Even though countermeasures can be brutal, much of cancer can either be stopped or greatly slowed.

  • beatcancer2x
    beatcancer2x Member Posts: 1 Member

    My Dr. told me to eat protein, carbs, veges & fruit at each meal. ( healthier foods, preferably) This is to help me gain weight for my upcoming treatment so now you have me confused. I've been los8ng weight and am currently 120lbs 5"3.

    I had stage 4 cervical cancer in 2000. Chemo & radiation consecutively so eat8ng was not an option for me. What went in, came out so may e your onto something, I don't know, but here I am 20 years later now fighting anal cancer.

    I got skin cancer last year I'm still dealing with. What is the best way to move forward? Since I'm maxed out on radiation and surgery is a last resort, so we're trying something I pray works. Chemo and and auto immune therapy to build my system up for the fight. Food is important to get me ready and gain weight for this.

    It may depend on what type of cancer your fighting.

  • ShadyGuy
    ShadyGuy Member Posts: 875 Member
    edited September 11 #4

    I agree with both of you which leads me to what I have always known - there is no simple easy answer to this conundrum. And there is definitely difference between various types of cancer but my focus is on lymphoma. However, being once a very conscientious eater, exerciser - very fit, at my ideal weight, took supplements etc I still got cancer. I had a relative who died last year of esophageal cancer. He was a health nut, ate organic, took various supplements, drank herbal teas and only consumed alkaline water for the past 12 years. He did not smoke or drink alcohol. He is now deceased after 18 months of agony. And doctors are definitely not always right, in fact they are often wrong. I won’t go into that. Bottom line is I am not convinced that what one eats is a big factor in the journey to contracting lymphoma. However I do think some foods nourish lymphoma once it is confirmed. The supplements, teas etc. touted to help lymphoma are, in my opinion, most likely just scams which could possibly have the opposite of the intended effect. My mantra now is that I eat absolutely anything I want - but only eat half of it. You guys are great. Thank you.

  • ShadyGuy
    ShadyGuy Member Posts: 875 Member

    Read this as favorng a high protein high fat diet over a fruit (high sugar/glucose) and vegetable (some are high carb) diet. Just a thought. The following is from the NCI -

    This review aims to answer to two basic questions: a) Which substrates does a tumour utilize and is there a regimen that might potentially favour the host over the tumour? and b) Does nutritional intervention disproportionally affect tumour growth? Literature to date focuses on humans; although some references to molecular mechanisms regulating cancer cells metabolism derive from studies on experimental tumours and cell biology. Literature shows that some tumours, especially those of the brain and head/neck and lung, are glucose-dependent, and patients with these tumours could benefit from a normocaloric ketogenic diet provided these tumours exhibit high fluorodeoxyglucose (18F-FDG) captation. A high fat-protein, low carbohydrate diet appears to better fulfil the nutritional requirements of the cancer patient. Current evidence shows no improvement in tumoral response after restricting patients' caloric intake; whereas malnutrition is acknowledged as an important negative predictive and prognostic factor in all cancer patients

  • po18guy
    po18guy Member Posts: 1,440 Member

    Cancer cells are mutations of our normal body cells. They have the same requirements to maintain life. We cannot starve the cancer without also starving ourselves. Conversely, we cannot feed our healthy cells without also feeding the cancer. Much has been said about reducing sugar - which is fine, except that your body runs on that energy. Our body will actually convert stored energy (carbs/fat) into simple sugar to feed the healthy cells as part of normal functioning. Our blood sugar must remain between 70-140 mg/dl, or else cellular damage may occur, or we risk falling into diabetic shock. We cannot survive a constant hypoglycemic state. Cancer cells die, but sooner or later, so do we.

    Much as also been written about maintaining an alkaline state in our body chemistry. Cancer cells cannot survive in an alkaline environment (same with acid). However, our healthy cells have the exact same requirements to maintain life. Thus, hypoglycemia and increased alkalinity in our systems are as much a threat to us as to the cancer. We always seek a quick and easy way out.

    Since cancer cells tend to divide much more rapidly than normal cells, the early (crude) chemotherpay regimens focused on drugs which killed rapidly dividing cells. Unfortunately, in addition to the malignancy, these rapidly dividing cells tended to be the mucosa (eyes, sinuses and entire alimentary canal), the skin and a few other types of cells. When cytotoxic drugs were used, all healthy cells also paid the price. The immense challenge presented to medical science is to target specific attributes of the cancer cells which normal cells do not possess. Thus, targeted therapies which tend to be less toxic are the emerging trend. All have side effects - a few can be advantageous, but most fall on the negative side of the balance sheet.

    At some level, we walk the tightrope with no safety net.

  • ShadyGuy
    ShadyGuy Member Posts: 875 Member
    edited September 12 #7

    I understand the molecular basis of cancer. My intent was to get others opinions/experience on how nutrition may affect the course of the disease. I did not indicate I thought cancer was caused by food - in fact quite the opposite.

  • po18guy
    po18guy Member Posts: 1,440 Member
    edited September 12 #8
  • ShadyGuy
    ShadyGuy Member Posts: 875 Member

    No offense intended or taken

    Science from Consumer labs current as of 2022

    In general, getting sufficient, but not excessive, amounts of vitamins and minerals from your diet and supplements may reduce your risk of cancer, while inadequate or excessive intakes may increase the risk. 

    Supplementation with beta-carotene (which your body can convert to vitamin A, as needed) may increase the risk of lung cancer in smokers and people exposed to asbestos. The effects of supplementing with retinol (pre-formed vitamin A) on cancer are not clear, although it has been associated with a reduced risk of melanoma in women. (does this include former smokers?)

    In men with prostate cancer, use of selenium from supplements was shown to increase the risk of death from prostate cancer in a study, although not the overall risk of death. However, in people with selenium deficiency, which is rare in North America, selenium supplementation may reduce deaths from cancer. 

    Low-dose vitamin E may help prevent prostate cancer, but high-dose vitamin E may increase it. In people deficient in vitamin E (rare in North America), vitamin E supplementation may reduce the risk of liver cancer. 

    High-dose vitamin B-12 was found to increase the risk of colorectal cancer in older adults.

    Adequate intake of folic acid (vitamin B-9) lessens the risk of developing certain cancers, but high intake from supplements or fortified foods may increase the risk of prostate cancer.

    Maintaining adequate (but not excessive) blood levels of vitamin D may help to prevent certain types of cancer, although high levels of vitamin D in men with very high calcium intake were shown, in one study, to increase the risk of developing prostate cancer. High intake of calcium itself may increase the risk of prostate cancer, although the evidence is mixed. Calcium supplementation may reduce the risk of colon cancer. 

    Taking a modest (i.e., not high-dose) multivitamin may reduce the risk of prostate cancer in men, although not deaths from prostate cancer. Women who took multivitamins and had invasive breast cancer were less likely to die of the disease during a 7-year study than those who did not take a multivitamin.

    As for other types of popular supplements, high blood levels of the omega-3 fatty acids DHA plus EPA and DPA were found to be associated with increased risk of developing prostate cancers but this does not appear to be a cause-and-effect relationship as taking fish oil supplements and eating fish have not been found to increase this risk. In fact, higher consumption of fish has been associated with a reduction in deaths from prostate cancer. In addition, use of fish oil supplements may reduce the risk of colon and breast cancer. 

    Use of muscle-enhancing supplements has been linked to an increased risk of testicular cancer -- although this may be due to the addition of nonconventional ingredients, such as steroids, in some supplements. 

    Curcumin has been shown to reduce the number of pre-cancerous changes that can occur in the colon.

    Consuming extra virgin olive oil may reduce the risk of breast and colon cancer.

    Consuming chocolate has not been found to reduce the risk of cancer, but it has been linked to an increased risk of colorectal cancer in women — although this may be due to increased adiposity (overweight/obesity), which is linked to colorectal cancer and has been associated with greater chocolate intake.

    Preliminary laboratory evidence suggests that nicotinamide riboside, a source of vitamin B-3, might increase the risk and progression of certain aggressive cancers, although this has not been confirmed in people.

    ( My opinion - mega doses of B complex vitamins are dangerous. I base this opinion on the experience of friends and my own use of daily b-complex vitamins before getting lymphoma. I am not a doctor and this is not a medical recommendation)

  • americkson
    americkson Member Posts: 1 Member

    Thanks for good info!

  • lakecityp3
    lakecityp3 Member Posts: 4 Member

    My oncologist told me not to go on diets, eat what I crave, drink lots of water, and take my meds. He also stated that from blood testing my vitamin and mineral levels were through the floor, so he wrote a LONG list of supplements for me to take, and even had to prescribe folic acid, because there are no brands that actually manufacture the 4 mg that I need daily. However, nothing quite prepared me for the DEBILITATING fatigue that comes with the treatments. Even a year later, I am spent quickly with just a few household chores and errands. The radiation damaged the nerve in my stomach that tells my body to empty it, so I am still full from the night before upon waking. I would love to be able to eat more than I do every day, as I've recently bounced between 165 and 179.

    I've heard many rumors and done a lot of research into what cancer feeds on. A good friend of mine was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2000. She decided that she was going to eat a vegetarian diet, except white meat chicken, steamed with little to no seasoning. Her diet consisted mainly of juices, carrot being the main one, because she had heard that vitamin A would attack cancer cells. It is my belief that she sent her body into shock by ingesting so much juice and fruits and veg. I know it may sound way off, but it had always bothered me because she cut all sugar, even, turbinado or other low processed sugars, out of her diet; she had read that these types of sugar feed cancer. She didn't last long, dying after about 18 months, the last six in which the cancer had metastasized to her chest wall, liver, stomach, and other abdominal organs. I pray especially hard for women that have breast cancer because it is an especially grueling fight that they have to go through.