A Diet Myth Commonly Spread By Oncologists

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    Many, if not most oncologists tell their patients that they can eat whatever they want and that their disease progression has nothing to do with their diet.  

    However, in the last decade, the scientific knowledge on the role of dietary components on cancer cell survival, progression and metastasis has increased dramatically.

    Scientists from all over the world have presented strong proof on the role of diet at all stages of cancer development and on the synergistic role of many anticancer food compounds with common cancer treatments. In this article we are going to present the scientific truth debunking the myth that diet has nothing to with cancer initiation, progression and treatment.

    During chemotherapy or other cancer treatments, powerful anticancer foods protect healthy cells

    According to the needs of each patient, there is a big list of dietary phytochemical agents to use along with chemotherapy or radiation.

    • Ginger enhances the therapeutic effect of chemotherapy while at the same time reducing some serious side effects such as nausea and vomiting.
    • Quercetin found in onions, apples, berries and tea protects the kidneys from the potentially harmful effects of conventional treatment.
    • Flavanoids found in herbs such as oregano and curcumin protect the brain from damage caused by the toxic drugs used in chemotherapy.
    • Medicinal mushrooms like pleurotous, Portobello and ganoderma also protect the healthy cells in the body while doing chemotherapy.

    Top anticancer foods help with cancer treatment

    Medicinal mushrooms boost the immune system 

    Diet boosts the immune system making it more capable to identify and kill cancer cells. A good example of this is the medicinal mushroom Reishi (Ganoderma Ludicum). Reishi mushrooms are strong immune system modulators. They increase the activity of natural killer cells in the body – our tough soldiers that fight invaders and pathogens. By boosting the immune system Reishi mushrooms selectively make cancer cells die and help prevent secondary infections in vulnerable cancer patients. In China and Japan medicinal mushrooms are common practise in patients begining chemotherapy treatments. 

    Anticancer foods selectively kill cancer cells

    Every day, at every meal, we can choose food that will defend our bodies against cancer. A great number of naturally occurring bioactive compounds found in fruits, vegetables, herbs and spices have proven to be very potent cancer fighters. The evidence clearly shows that a carefully planned diet can rebalance the body’s physiology and reverse the conditions that nurture cancer cells. A few examples of the anticancer power of foods are:

    • Berries and pomegranates: They are rich in ellagic acid, a natural compound found to kill cancer cells in lab studies.

    • Broccoli: The best known source of sulforaphane, a natural substance found to destroy many types of cancer cells by inducing their death and to prevent them from spreading to other parts of the body.

    • Turmeric: It's strong anti-infammatory capacity is key in keeping the body in balance while having any kind of cancer treatment. 

    The body needs foods with detoxifying power

    The body has several detox pathways that need to work in balance in order to achieve optimum detoxification. This is of crucial importance as chemotherapy itself has very toxic effects to the healthy cells of the body. To ensure optimum detoxification cancer patients should:

    • Use Milk Thistle, a plant used by herbalists for many centuries to treat various liver disorders. It stimulates the two main detoxification pathways of the liver and it can be useful for people undergoing chemotherapy or taking other toxic medication.

    • Increase the intake of garlic oil, rosemary, cabbage, Brussels sprouts and broccoli as they are all known to increase the activity of phase II enzymes in the liver and support better detoxification.

    • Ensure regular bowel movements. Constipation must be avoided, as the large bowel is the main exit route for toxins. Consider using chia seeds, linseeds, a good probiotic supplement, kefir, plain live yogurt, a good supply of fiber and fluids.

    Avoid carcinogenic foods / substances

    Under certain circumstances cancer cells grow faster. They also travel through the body, create new blood vessels and metastasize more efficiently. Many of these steps are affected greatly by the foods we eat. The foods / nutrients below are especially important and were found by research to be carcinogenic, so it would be wise that they are minimized or avoided completely during any cancer treatment:

    • Salt in the diet

    • Sugar, especially when there is insulin resistance or pre-diabetes

    • Substances caused by cooking at high temperatures and when meat is exposed to smoke

    • Processed meat 

    • Foods causing inflammation such as omega 6 fatty acids (in vegetable oils such as corn oil, soybean oil etc) 

    • Most food additives

    • Foods carrying environmental toxins such as BPA in plastics and arsenic in rice products

    While the research is mounting and every health conscious person knows that diet is the cornerstone of cancer prevention and treatment, it comes as a great surprise to still find oncologists to continue believing their old myth.

    It is only reasonable to ask: “Why are the thousands of people who undergo chemotherapy or radiation, not encouraged to change their diets and seek the optimum nutritional plan to enhance their treatment and minimize the risk of cancer progression and metastasis?”

    Take Home Message 

    I hope my article inspires you to spread the word on how an optimum nutrition plan can be life changing in the fight against cancer.

    • If you want to prevent cancer look no further than your plate. 

    • If you know of someone who faces a cancer diagnosis, don’t let them believe the old and dangerous myth that diet is not important.

    • If you want to recieve the latest scientific research on the role of diet on cancer prevention and treatment, subscribe to our website www.mynutrilosophy.com.

    • Find out more about cancer prevention and treatment in my book: "ANTICANCER - The Preventive Power of Food".


    1. National Cancer Institute accessed on: http://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/genetics

    2. American Cancer Society accessed on: http://www.cancer.org/cancer/cancercauses/

    3. Ghadirian P1, Narod S, Fafard E, Costa M, Robidoux A, Nkondjock A. Breast cancer risk in relation to the joint effect of BRCA mutations and diet diversity. Breast Cancer Res Treat. 2009 Sep;117(2):417-22.

    4. Patel S, Goyal A. Recent developments in mushrooms as anti-cancer therapeutics: a review.3 Biotech. 2012;2(1):1-15. doi:10.1007/s13205-011-0036-2.

    5. Katrin Sak, “Chemotherapy and Dietary Phytochemical Agents,”Chemotherapy Research and Practice, vol. 2012, Article ID 282570, 11 pages, 2012. doi:10.1155/2012/282570

    6. http://www.cancerresearchuk.org/about-cancer/cancers-in-general/cancer-questions/milk-thistle-and-liver-cancer




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