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The Role of Diet in Cancer

Published on October 12th, 2016 by Dr. Jennifer Nardella

What we eat plays a significant role in preventing and battling cancer. You may be wondering, how so? Death from cancer can be reduced by 50% with healthy lifestyle practices – a healthy diet and physical activity. 50% is a significant statistic in comparison to any other treatment for cancer! For example, in 2008 a study conducted on breast cancer patients showed that a cancer-healthy diet and exercise reduced mortality by breast cancer by 68% (Andersen et al).

Most of us are aware that obesity is a leading cause of chronic disease worldwide. Being overweight or obese contributes to 14% of cancer deaths in men and 20% in women (Calle et al). Nichols and his colleagues determined that an 11-pound gain in weight after a cancer diagnosis is equivalent to a 14% increase in death from that cancer (Nichols et al).

So, what is the best diet to prevent and treat cancer? Research is supporting caloric restriction as the only effective way to prolong life. Your naturopath can help you find the best diet for you.

In the past 50 years a lot has contributed to the change in our eating habits, which we know is helping cancer become a leading cause of death:

  1. We tend to eat more refined sugars
  2. We tend to eat larger portions and therefore consume excess calories, which we do not need
  3. We consume more pro-inflammatory fatty acids (Omega 6) versus anti-inflammatory fatty acids (Omega 3)
  4. Our foods are higher in chemicals and lower in nutritional value

As a result, our bodies are undergoing chronic inflammation from the foods we eat and obesity is at the top of the list for one of the most detrimental factors contributing to mortality.

So what does this tell us? We NEED to change the way we eat. One of the many problems with our diets is sugar consumption. Sugar is a major culprit for fueling cancer cells. It is sugar that can change an atypical cell into a cancer cell. Sugar provides an environment for tumor cells to replicate and multiple comfortably and rapidly. Sugar increases the levels of insulin in our bodies – a hormone typically produced by our body to modulate sugar levels. When insulin is chronically elevated, it cannot only lead to diabetes (which adds to risk of getting cancer), but it also increases the level of growth factors required for cancer cells to proliferate. These include Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor (VEGF), Epidermal Growth Factor (EGF) and Insulin-like Growth Factor-1 (IGF-1) (Li et al). Not only can our naturopaths develop an appropriate dietary plan for you, but they also have advanced testing to check the levels of these growth factors already present in your body.

There is no one diet suited to a group of individuals; personalized cancer treatment plans by a naturopath are necessary. Limiting sugar is an important, but not the only dietary category we need to avoid, as mentioned above. If you are looking into prevention or to stabilize chronic disease such as cancer, our naturopath can guide you in the correct direction and ensure you are receiving the correct scientific information to help you battle cancer up front and personal. Various types of cancers can be worsened and treated by certain foods, herbs and nutrients – there is no generic fix. There are different subtypes of the same cancer, which can respond differently to a particular dietary plan. Please contact the Nardella clinic today to book an appointment to see a naturopath for a comprehensive dietary plan that fits your needs.


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