Eating well can help you feel better and stay stronger during and after cancer treatment. Patients who eat well and maintain a healthy body weight often tolerate treatment side effects better. And good nutrition also helps the body replace blood cells and tissues broken down by treatment.
A healthy lifestyle plays a key role in keeping the body strong, supporting the immune system (the cells and proteins that defend the body against infection) and reducing risk for some diseases, such as certain kinds of heart disease and some cancers. Most nutrition professionals agree that a good diet for everyone, including cancer survivors, is a varied, balanced diet of nutrient-rich fruits and vegetables; whole grains; and low-fat proteins, such as fish, lean meats and poultry.
Good nutrition should be part of a healthy lifestyle that also includes:
- Maintaining a healthy body weight
- Drinking water or other noncaffeinated beverages
- Daily activity, such as walking
- Relaxing (managing stress)
- Getting enough sleep
- Not using tobacco or abusing drugs and alcohol
Evaluating Nutrition Information
Nutrition and cancer research is still in its early stages, therefore you may find it difficult to sort out dependable, science-based advice from misinformation and myth. Before you try any supplement or herb on your own, talk with your doctor about the risk of it interfering with your cancer treatment. For example:
Omega-3 fatty acid supplements can increase the blood-thinning effects of aspirin or warfarin.
St.-John's-wort, an herbal product used to treat depression, reduces the effectiveness of imatinib (a drug used to treat chronic myeloid leukemia and Philadelphia-positive acute lymphoblastic leukemia). Talk with your doctor about safe treatment options for depression.
- Download or order The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's free fact sheet, Food and Nutrition Facts.