NCHPAD Nutrition Corner: Nutritional Tips for Persons with Cancer
In general, persons with cancer should consume a variety of foods daily for a nutritionally adequate diet balanced in protein, carbohydrates, fat, vitamins, and minerals. Because of the stress of illness on the body, there is an increased need for protein to help repair and rebuild tissues, and to maintain a healthy immune system. Individualized nutrition intervention is recommended to ensure adequate nutrition intake and weight maintenance.
Nutritional needs will vary, depending on the type of treatment chosen. For example, if receiving chemotherapy, it is common to experience taste abnormalities. Protein, energy, and vitamin metabolism may be impaired during treatment. If corticosteroids are prescribed as part of the treatment process, they can cause tissue breakdown and promote excessive urinary loss of protein, potassium, and calcium. It is also common to experience some problems with digestion and nutritional absorption during the treatment. Be aware of significant nutritional consequences associated with surgical resection as treatment for pancreatic cancer. During radiation, multivitamins and supplements that include vitamins B12, folic acid, and A, E, and K are essential.
For cancer prevention, eat a variety of healthful foods, with an emphasis on plant sources (five or more servings of a variety of fruits and vegetables every day, whole grains, and limited consumption of red meats, especially those processed and high in fat). Choose foods that help maintain a healthful weight. Adopt a physically active lifestyle (moderate activity for 30 minutes or more 5 days or more a week), and maintain a healthful weight throughout life, where caloric intake is balanced with physical activity. Finally, limit consumption of alcoholic beverages.
View other resources at NCPAD's Illinois Center on Health Promotion, Nutrition, Physical Activity and Disability Web site at http://www.ncpad.org/content/12/Health~Promotion~Nutrition.