Survivorship Nutrition: Preventing Cancer Recurrence
Once cancer treatment is complete it is time to restore and rejuvenate the body by feeding it with the best foods for optimal nutrition. Nutrition status, physical activity, and body weight all play a role in preventing cancer recurrence. Follow these 5 basic guidelines to help prevent a cancer recurrence:
- Eat a wide variety of fruits and vegetables. Research suggests that eating at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables each day can reduce cancer risk. While the research is not conclusive on what role fruits and vegetables may have in preventing a cancer recurrence, we know that fruits and vegetables offer a wide variety of health benefits. These plant foods provide the body with essential vitamins and minerals and cancer-fighting antioxidants.
- Reduce your intake of highly processed meats and red meat. There have been several studies that have linked eating large amounts of red meat and processed meat with higher risk for colorectal, prostate, and stomach cancers. It is recommended that individuals eat less than 18 oz of red meat (beef, pork, lamb) per week and avoid highly processed meats such as sausage, bacon, hot dogs, bologna, and luncheon meats.
- Limit alcohol intake. According to research, even small amounts of alcohol pose cancer risk, so it is best to avoid alcohol intake completely. However if you drink alcohol, limit your intake to no more than 2 drinks a day for men and 1 drink a day for women.
- Increase your level of physical activity. Moving more has multiple benefits including lowering your risk of cancer and other diseases. Aim for a total of 30 minutes of physical activity every day. Take this quiz from the American Institute of Cancer Research to see if you are active enough.
- Maintain a healthy weight. More research studies suggest that being overweight may increase the risk of cancer recurrence and reduces the odds of survival of many cancers. Follow a healthy diet that includes a variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and low fat dairy. Use methods to help moderate your portion sizes and always aim to incorporate activity into your lifestyle.
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Contributing Author: Katherine T. Fowler, MS, RD, LDN