Learn how to use Mayo Clinic Connect
Request an Appointment
Are there any diets proven to suppress cancer?
I have people telling me that cancer feeds on what we all eat. Is anyone aware of any studies done that have proven various foods can actually help kill cancer?
This is such a good question @travelgirl. I’m tagging @smness on this conversation. Sheryl is a patient educator at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester. She and her team in the Cancer Education Center help inform and educate patients, families and caregivers. She or a colleague may have some up to date research for you about foods that kill cancer.
In the meantime, you may be interested in looking at the research and publications by Richard Béliveau, PhD and Denis Gingras, PhD http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2231485/. However, their work focuses on prevention. They wrote Foods That Fight Cancer: Preventing Cancer through Diet.
This is a common question @travelgirl. We can do things to be healthier by eating well. However, there are a lot of myths out there about sugar feeding cancer, and acid vs. alkaline diets and cancer. These are all myths that have been around for years. Here is a link to an article on common myths http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/cancer/in-depth/cancer-causes/art-20044714?pg=2.
I wrote about diet and healthy eating a couple of times on the Living with Cancer blog. This blog talks about the Mediterranean diet and cancer survivors (one of the most studied) http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/cancer/expert-blog/mediterranean-diet-and-cancer/bgp-20056300. Also this one on Adding Colorful Vegetables and Fruits to Your Diet http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/cancer/expert-blog/fruits-and-vegetables-and-cancer/bgp-20056364.
I also wrote a blog called Functional foods give a boost to your wellness…I am adding the article below.
By Sheryl M. Ness, R.N. June 26, 2014
Living With Cancer
Subscribe to our Living With Cancer e-newsletter to stay up to date on cancer topics.
Sign up now
What we eat plays a key role in keeping us healthy and protecting from major diseases, such as cancer and heart disease. Researchers are studying how certain foods can help enhance health and prevent illness.
Foods such as fruits and vegetables that contain phytochemicals (naturally occurring chemicals made by plants) and antioxidants (man-made or natural substances that may prevent or delay some types of cell damage), whole grains with natural fiber, low-fat dairy foods, nuts and oils, and oily fish high in omega-3 fatty acids are now being placed in a new category called functional foods. Functional foods go beyond nutrition and have a positive effect on health.
Functional foods are whole and unprocessed, such as fresh berries, cauliflower or broccoli — or they may have ingredients added to them, such as low-fat yogurt with live cultures.
Specific to cancer, cruciferous vegetables and vegetables in the cabbage family contain phytochemicals, vitamins and minerals, and fiber that are important to your health.
Vegetables in this family include cauliflower, broccoli, kale and others and have been the focus of study for some time. Here are a few examples of research with functional foods and specific cancer types:
Prostate and breast cancer — Evidence shows that eating cruciferous vegetables, such as cabbage, Brussels sprouts, broccoli and cauliflower, can reduce the risk of prostate and breast cancer.
Stomach cancer — Scientists are studying a specific component found in cruciferous vegetables called benzyl-isothiocyanate (BITC). It has shown promise in preventing the growth of gastric cancer cells. Additional studies are needed to confirm this in humans.
Lung cancer — The Nurses’ Health Study reported that women who ate more than five servings a week of cruciferous vegetables had a lower risk of lung cancer. More studies are needed to confirm this finding as well.
Here are a few tips to add more functional foods to your daily routine:
Add more fresh or frozen, ready to use vegetables to soups, salads and casseroles.
Eat fruit with every meal. Keep a bowl of fruit on your table. Berries, apples, bananas, oranges, pears and red grapes are a great idea instead of dessert.
Begin your day with high-fiber cereal. Aim for 5 grams or more of fiber a serving. Try using wheat bran, ground flaxseed over cereal, yogurt or fruit.
Use whole-grain breads and pastas. Look for the wording whole grain as one of the first ingredients and aim for at least 3 grams of fiber a serving.
Eat more whole grains and legumes. Make the switch to brown rice or barley, bulgur and quinoa. Add black beans, lentils and kidney beans to dishes.
Make your snacks count. Try low-fat popcorn, whole wheat crackers, raw vegetables and fresh fruit instead of high-fat or sugary treats.
Go meatless at least once a week. Use lentils, beans, tofu and other sources of protein instead.
Add fish to your menu at least twice a week. Fish high in omega 3 fatty acids include tuna, salmon, anchovies, trout, cod, and others.
Jump to this post
@colleenyoung, @smness thank you both for your information. I look forward to reading the articles. And I will subscribe to the cancer blog too. Since this is all new to me since being diagnosed the first of year. I still in the learning stages.. So again thank you.
Boy, that’s a huge topic. As far as I know, there is no single diet known to suppress or reverse all cancers since different cancers meet their metabolic needs in different ways. I looked into this a lot but with a narrow focus on prostate cancer. The conclusion was to stick to sound diet basics such as restricting animal products and saturated fat, avoiding processed and preserved foods, and avoiding sugar. The Mediterranean diet follows those guidelines. Some cancers seem to be slowed by a ketogenic diet as I recall but only slowed, not reversed. Maintaining an optimum weight is at least as important as diet, as is exercise. If you are tempted to try a bunch of supplements, don’t. Higher levels of some nutrients, such as thiamine, can actually feed the cancer. Others, like anti-oxidants, can protect it. Take a look at a book, Anticancer: A New Way of Life. It covers a lot and is generally pretty sensible. Like I said, this is a massive topic with a lot of opportunities to get confused. Try and do what seems sensible and avoid extremes. Best of luck.
Great answer @johnwburns and very sage advice!
Thank You @johwburns It has been overwhelming too say the least. I am going to get the book recommend.
again thank you.
Don’t thank me for just being human. One thing that I forgot to mention is to take as much time as you can to destress by whatever means best suits you. Its going to be alright.
Hi, Lacey here, I enjoyed all the comment regarding the right kinds of food for whom-ever had or has cancer. Whatever kind of cancer, healthy eating can only make problems lighter. I have been in remission for one year now after being treated for Lymphoma. I was told to eat a lot of sweet potatoes ( thank goodness I love them) try to do all the good stuff in moderation. before I became sick I was eating so much sushi and tuna has a lot of iodine in it which the “nodes” do not like (this is straight from the doctor ), I still have a lot to learn, tomorrow I get my blood test and pray my numbers are perfect, will keep you up to date.
At the Mayo Clinic conference on Healthy Lifestyles last year, a topic of discussion and area of interest for cancer diets was the Alkaline Diet. It might be advantageous to research the positive evidence of this in addition to the myths that have been shared.
Sugar is pro-inflammatory to the body, which is one factor (of many) leading to chronic disease and cancer. Sugar may not “feed” cancer but it certainly does not promote healing. The conference also often discussed the Mediterranean Diet as one of the best health promoting diets, which goes along with my research and experience. Basically, whole and fresh foods, no refined or processed foods, lower in saturated fat (animal products), high in plant based foods with an emphasis on fresh fruits and vegetables. Reducing stress and getting plenty of good quality sleep is of high importance as well. I wish you all the best 🙂
Thank you both for sharing. I really appreciate it. I heard that drinking Alkaline Water to help acid reflex. I will look at the at the alkaline diet and try and stick to a Mediterranean diet..
You might want to have somebody check into the cause of your reflux before you try drastically changing your diet. Taking a zantac now and the might be just easier for you. Plenty of stuff to read about the Mediterranean diet. Unlike most diets, the food actually tastes good. Spoil yourself a little. Everything’s going to be alright.
Thank you for your feedback, I will check with my doctor regarding the zantac, As far as my diet, I am a very healthy eater, lots of veggies and fruits, soon I will have ample supply to cherries again, the best thing to discourage cancer and other problems. I grew up on the Mediterranean diet ( family is Italian) and I always had a “sensitive stomach” just gets worse as I get older. Lacey
Create an account to connect with other patients and caregivers like you.Ask questions, get answers, and give and get support.Also follow blogs from Mayo Clinic experts.
Already have an account? Sign In