As a cancer survivor myself, after my treatment ended, I wanted to do what I could to remain cancer free. While you might think it’s too late, I was focused on preventing cancer recurrence and preventing secondary cancer. That means preventing my original cancer from coming back and preventing a brand new cancer.
I realized that if the environment inside my body allowed me to get cancer once, I needed to change that internal environment to prevent it from coming back or from a new cancer taking hold. How do I change my internal environment? As it turns out, there are many tools to help with that.
As a registered dietitian, I sought to discover what is the best diet for cancer survivors.
What is the Best Diet for Cancer Survivors?
The best diet for cancer survivors incorporates three key aspects:
- Support the immune system
- Reduct chronic inflammation
- Eat foods containing nutraceuticals
I spent years researching these topics and I condensed what I learned to create a food guide specific for cancer survivors. Now cancer patients and survivors can have their own food guide, customized to their special nutrition needs. I am proud to introduce you to the Cancer Risk Reduction Guide
This blog post will share with you some of the background on creating my Cancer Risk Reduction Guide, goal setting to help you improve your cancer survivor diet and a full list of references. You can read the blog top to bottom or use this table of contents to help you navigate this post.
Table of Contents
Where Did the Dream to Create A Food Guide Come From?
When I finished my cancer treatment, I was full of anxiety. I thought that every time I got a headache or a twinge or uneasy feeling that my cancer had come back. I was jumpy and on edge.
When I asked my doctor what I could do he said ‘just eat a healthy diet’ but that didn’t seem like enough. When I heard this, I pictured Canada’s Food Guide (nothing wrong with Canada’s Food Guide) but being a cancer survivor, I felt I needed something more specific to my needs.
Creating A Food Guide
I got the idea to create a food guide for cancer patients who had finished treatment from a health unit in Ottawa that created a food guide for people with diabetes. That planted a seed for me – someone should create a food guide for people who want to reduce their risk of cancer….yes, someone should do that.
I Tried to Get Others To Create A Food Guide
I so believed in my food guide idea that I told people who I thought had the means to make it come to life…but not having lived through the experience of cancer and the fear and anxiety that comes after cancer treatment, others were not as enthusiastic as I was.
Not Giving Up on My Food Guide
I’ve worked with many cancer patients and survivors and they share one common goal. They want to change their eating so that they can reduce their risk of ever getting cancer again. And if they have metastatic disease, they want it to stop growing and spreading.
I knew that the guide I wanted to create could help so many people. I didn’t give up on the idea. Finally, after meeting an amazing graphic designer who agreed to help me with my dream, my food guide was launched in 2018 and the website followed after that. Right now, we have two products to offer you. The full colour printed guide and the full colour digital download.
What’s in The Cancer Risk Reduction Guide?
After reading lots and lots of research and attending conferences and webinars, in the area of cancer nutrition, I noticed three key themes emerge. Those, three themes, I call The 3 Keys to Cancer Risk Reduction.
What are the 3 Keys to Cancer Risk Reduction?
- Support the immune system
- Reduce chronic inflammation
- Eat nutraceuticals in foods (nutrients in our food that act against cancer cells directly)
and they are all detailed in the Cancer Risk Reduction Guide.
Why Should I Get a Cancer Risk Reduction Guide?
I know what it’s like to be wondering, “am I doing everything I can to reduce my risk of recurrence?”. “Can I eat this?”. “Is this good for me?” And you can stop wondering and know with certainly what the nutrition research says can help you to reduce your risk.
How to Use the Food Guide
When you have your copy of the Cancer Risk Reduction Guide, take time to read through all the information. Make a list of the items that are recommended that you aren’t doing as part of your regular routine. Next rank these items from ‘easiest to implement’ to ‘most challenging to implement’ and set a new goal for yourself. Start with the item that is the easiest.
Goal Setting for Success
An example of a goal might be “starting tomorrow, I will drink one cup of green tea every day”. By focusing on just one goal at a time, it allows you to work in a step by step way to make improvements to your health.
Making Goals that you can Succeed with
You don’t have to implement everything in the guide right away. It’s better to make improvements gradually to help them stick. I’m not out to create the next fad diet. The Cancer Risk Reduction Guide is about creating lasting change. If you need help to reach your goals, then please get in touch at email@example.com. I’d be happy to work with you either in person or over the phone.
I’d love for you to share your successes with me. I think the best way for that is to post it on my facebook page I would also love it, if you could share your victories with others. Let them know how the food guide helped you to understand what you needed to do and that it gave you a roadmap to get there. Please share it with other cancer patients and cancer survivors.
Who Should Get the Cancer Risk Reduction Guide?
I happen to think everyone should be on a cancer risk reduction diet, but in reality I know that most people want to just keep the blinders on and think that cancer is something that happens to other people. Having said that, I think the people who will benefit most from the Cancer Risk Reduction Guide are people whom;
1) Have had a diagnosis of cancer and are finished their treatment and wondering…now what?
2) Are living with a genetic risk for cancer such as BRAC1 or BRCA 2
3) Are living with an environmental or workplace exposure that puts them at risk such as asbestos, radon or arsenic
4) Have had a ‘cancer scare’ such as a positive screening test like a pap smear, colon polyps or skin biopsies
5) Have an inflammatory condition like chronic acid reflux (GERD), inflammatory bowel disease or H.Pylori
6) Have a viral infection linked to a high risk of cancer such as HPV (human papilloma virus), Hep B or C (hepatitis) or Epstein-Barr virus
7) Have a history of smoking or exposure to radon in their home
8) Have a history of excess sun exposure or sun burn
9) Have family members with cancer
10) Are sedentary and/or overweight, especially if the excess weight around the middle
11) Currently have cancer and are undergoing treatment, but are still able to eat a healthy diet
From One Cancer Survivor to Another
I created the Cancer Risk Reduction Guide for you. I’ve been there, I know how scary it can be. Get your guide today and let me help you to make sure you are doing everything you can to help reduce your risk. I held on to this dream in order to do something good for others. I can only do that, if you get the guide and implement the changes that nutrition science tells us can make a difference.
If you want to read more about diet and cancer you should read;
And if you want some information specific to triple negative breast cancer, then check out:
References for Diet for Cancer Survivors
The is a list of the research that was used as background for The Cancer Risk Reduction Guide organized by category.
Key # 1 Support the Immune System
Nutrition and Immune Health
National Cancer Institute. Cancer Prevention through Immunomodulation: Does diet play a roll? Nov 16, 2004
Soldati L, Di Renzo L, Jirillo E, Ascierto PA, Marincola FM, De Lorenzo A. The influence of diet on anti-cancer immune responsiveness. J Transl Med. 2018;16(1):75. Published 2018 Mar 20. doi:10.1186/s12967-018-1448-0
Stress and Immune Health
Chida Y, Hamer M, Wardle J, Steptoe A. Do stress-related psychosocial factors contribute to cancer incidence and survival?. Nat Clin Pract Oncol. 2008;5(8):466-475. doi:10.1038/ncponc1134
Sleep and Immune Health
Besedovsky L, Lange T, Haack M. The Sleep-Immune Crosstalk in Health and Disease. Physiol Rev. 2019;99(3):1325-1380.
Hale L, Troxel W, Buysse DJ. Sleep Health: An Opportunity for Public Health to Address Health Equity. Annu Rev Public Health. 2020;41:81-99.
Physical Activity and Immune Health
Kushi L, Doyle C, McCullough M, et al. American Cancer Society Guidelines on Nutrition and Physical Activity for Cancer Prevention Reducing the Risk of Cancer With Healthy Food Choices and Physical Activity. CA Cancer J Clin 2012;62:30–67
World Cancer Research Fund. Physical Activity and the Risk of Cancer. 2018.
Laughter and Immune Health
Morishima T, Miyashiro I, Inoue N, et al. Effects of laughter therapy on quality of life in patients with cancer: An open-label, randomized controlled trial. PLoSOne. 2019;14(6):e0219065.
Christie W, Moore C. The impact of humor on patients with cancer. Clin J Oncol Nurs. 2005;9(2):211-218. doi:10.1188/05.CJON.211-218
Obesity and Immune Health
Andersen CJ, Murphy KE, Fernandez ML. Impact of Obesity and Metabolic Syndrome on Immunity. Adv Nutr. 2016;7(1):66-75.
Nature and Immune Health
Key # 2 Anti-Inflammatory Diet
Besedovsky L, Lange T, Haack M. The Sleep-Immune Crosstalk in Health and Disease. Physiol Rev. 2019;99(3):1325-1380. doi:10.1152/physrev.00010.2018
Cavicchia PP, Steck SE, Hurley TG et al. A new dietary inflammatory index predicts interval changes in serum high-sensitivity C-reactive protein. J Nutr, 2009 Dec;139(12):2365-72.
Friedenreich CM, Neilson HK, Woolcott CG, et al. Inflammatory marker changes in a yearlong randomized exercise intervention trial among postmenopausal women.Cancer Prev Res (Phila). 2012 Jan;5(1):98-108.
Reinagel, M. The IF Rating Formula. Accessed Sept 16, 2020. *This link contains a pdf of research used to inform the IF Rating Formula
Key # 3 Nutraceuticals in Food
Bradburt K, Applyby P, and Key T. Fruit and Vegetable Intake in relation to cancer risk:findings from the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC). Am J Clin Nutr. 2014 Jul;100 Supple 1:394S-8S.
Currie K, Stillman S, Haines S et al. Nutrition Guidelines for Cancer Prevention: More than Just food for Thought. Geriatrics & Aging, Sept 2009, 12:8:408-413.
Gupta SC. Kim JH. Prasad S. Aggarwal BB. Regulation of survival, proliferation, invasion angiogenesis and metastasis of tumor cells through modulation of inflammatory pathways by nutraceuticals. Cancer & Metastasis Reviews. 29(3):405-34, 2010 Sep.
Aravindaram K and Yang NS, Anti-inflammatory plant natural products for cancer therapy, Planta Med, 2010Aug;76(11):1103–17;
Bharat Aggarwal with Debora Yost. Healing Spices by Sterling Press. 2011. page127.
Pierce J, Stefanick M, and Flatt S. et al. Greater survival after breast cancer in physically active women with high vegetable-fruit intake regardless of obesity. J Clin Oncol 25:2345-2351.
Robien K, Denmark-Wahnefried W and Rock C. Evidence-based nutrition guidelines for cancer survivors: Current guidelines, knowledge gaps, and future research directions. Journal of the American Dietetic Association. March 2011, 368-375.
Slavin J. Whole grains and human health. Nutrition Research Reviews, 2004, 17.
World Cancer Research Fund. Other Dietary Exposures; Glycemic Load, vitamin supplements and the risk of cancer. Continuous Update Project. Accessed Sept 15, 2020.
Eating Little if Any…
Awney H. The effect of green tea and olive oil on the mutagenic activity of heterocyclic amines extracted from common food consumed in Saudi Arabia. Int J Food Sci Nutr. 2011;62(3):295-302. doi:10.3109/09637486.2010.529070
Chiavarini M, Bertarelli G, Minelli L, Fabiani R. Dietary Intake of Meat Cooking-Related Mutagens (HCAs) and Risk of Colorectal Adenoma and Cancer: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Nutrients. 2017;9(5):514. Published 2017 May 18. doi:10.3390/nu9050514
National Cancer Institute. Chemicals in Meat Cooked at High Temperatures and Cancer Risk. Last update July 11, 2017. Accessed Sept 15, 2020.
Puangsombat K, Smith JS. Inhibition of heterocyclic amine formation in beef patties by ethanolic extracts of rosemary. J Food Sci. 2010;75(2):T40-T47. doi:10.1111/j.1750-3841.2009.01491.x
Sepahpour S, Selamat J, Khatib A, Manap MYA, Abdull Razis AF, Hajeb P. Inhibitory effect of mixture herbs/spices on formation of heterocyclic amines and mutagenic activity of grilled beef. Food Addit Contam Part A Chem Anal Control Expo Risk Assess. 2018;35(10):1911-1927. doi:10.1080/19440049.2018.1488085
Reviewers of Cancer Risk Reduction Guide
The following professionals generously provided feedback on draft versions of The Cancer Risk Reduction Guide, the feedback helped to shape the content.
Joanne Bak, RD, Summerville Family Health Team, Mississauga, Ontario
Serena Beber, RD, East General Family Health Team, Toronto, Ontario
Karen Collins, MS, RDN, CDN, FAND, www.karencollinsnutrition.com
Suzanne Dixon, MPH, MS, RDN, www.nonutritionfear.com
Donna Warner, RD, Saint John Regional Hospital, St. John, New Brunswick
Janice Giesbrecht, MSc, MD, Walker Family Cancer Centre, St Catharines, Ontario
Helaina Huneaut, dietetics student, University of Windsor, Windsor, Ontario
Shauna Lindzon, RD, www.shaunalindzon.com, Toronto, Ontario
Pamela Ostby, RN, PhD, Lake St. Louis, Missouri
Callista Phillips, MD, Joseph Brant Memorial Hospital, Mississauga, Ontario
Angela Wicu-Ramon, DPT, CLT LANA, www.cancerrehabaustin.com
If you would like you get your individual copy of The Cancer Risk Reduction Guide either in pdf or hard copy, it is available on my website. Bulk order discounts are available for dietitians and institutions that wish to provide it to their patients.