Food recommendations for people with cancer.

Should I change my diet? Will I have to exercise more? Would it be good to use nutritional supplements? Those are some of the questions that people diagnosed with cancer usually do. Finding the answers can be difficult. Doctors do not always have training in these issues, so patients end up consulting other sources of information, with the consequent risks involved.

“We still hear from patients that specialists have used expressions like ‘not shown’, ‘eat what you want’ or other equivalent expressions in the office. If such phrases mask a lack of awareness of these issues, if not an impairment of their scientific hierarchy or perhaps an attitude of prejudice, patients do not have to pay the high cost of missing the opportunity to improve their living conditions, just because Physicians have ancestry on patients, “says the doctor and researcher in cancer epidemiology Alvaro Ronco in his book Nutrition in the cancer patient: fundamentals for a therapeutic optimization.

Ronco investigated for 20 years the nutritional epidemiology in cancer in Uruguay. That, more international literature, is what overturned in its publication, awarded with the El PaĆ­s Prize of the National Academy of Medicine.

The overall responsibility for nutrition at the origin of the cancer is at least 30%. In turn, there are dozens of studies that show that cancer patients who make certain nutritional changes tend to have a better prognosis of their disease than those who continue with the same nutritional regimen prior to diagnosis, says Ronco. Therefore, it proposes a “nutritional reprogramming”, based on reducing the intake of foods that increase the risk and increase the consumption of those protectors, along with some nutrients and bioactive substances.

The expert then proposes to modify the nutritional patterns so that the organism is better conditioned and allows a more effective treatment action on the neoplastic (abnormal) cells and protects the healthy cells. Here are some of the patterns suggested by Ronco, in this case for the cancers with the highest mortality in Uruguay for men and women (the book is much broader).

Breast cancer

In Uruguay, one out of every four cancers diagnosed in women is breast cancer: about 2,000 new cases per year and 650 deaths. For these patients, the main recommendations are:

-Low consumption of red meats prepared to heat. Forms of roasted, grilled or grilled cooking are not advisable; yes they are the prepared preparations, accompanied by abundance of vegetables.

– High consumption of white meat not prepared to direct heat. Birds like the chicken prepared in roasted or fried form and with the skin are not a good option. Yes the high consumption of fish (not fried), in particular the fatty ones like salmon, sardine, tuna, anchovy and mackerel is advisable.

-I preferential consumption of olive oil. Vegetable oil should be replaced with extra virgin olive oil to season salads and prepare dishes such as pizzas and cakes. If you decide to eat fried foods (although they should be rare), also use this type of oil.

-High consumption of citrus. Tangerines, oranges and their juice are a very powerful means of protection. A minimum average of one to two units per day should be ingested. Also advise lemons, strawberries and kiwis, but not grapefruit.

-Consumption of dairy products. It suggests skim milk fortified with calcium and vitamin D, and also skim yogurt. Among the cheeses, it recommends the semi-hard and other greasy yellow ones (like Colonia or Gruyere) and to restrict the cream of milk, the whipped cream, the cream ice cream and the chocolate milk.

– Low consumption of foods with a high glycemic index. Bread and other wheat derivatives, cakes, sweets and jams should be poorly consumed. Whole foods are more advisable and should be combined with foods with high protein content such as dairy products and meats.

-Include foods derived from soy. There is something for everyone: beans, flour, sprouts and burgers.

– Frequent consumption of tomatoes and crucifers. These last include broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, cabbage, watercress and chard.

– Supplement omega 3 fats. It is advisable for its antioxidant action, stimulating the immune system, preventing cancer and optimizing treatments, among others.

-Supplement with vitamin D. It has antitumor capacity for breast, colon and probably prostate cancer. It can be found on fatty fish and when sunbathing; nevertheless advise to ingest it orally.

-To achieve an adequate level of adiposity. The mass-muscle ratio should not be greater than 1.5 (one and a half times). The ideal is a parity between the two.

Cancer of the lungs

Although prostate cancer is the one that has the highest incidence in men in Uruguay, the one of lung is the one that produces more number of deaths. Some of the suggested nutritional guidelines are:

– Do not consume alcohol. Drinking alcohol is inadvisable; Beer is the most risky drink.

-Suspend the mate. It is advisable that the patient with this type of cancer does not maintain this habit. Green tea, on the other hand, is advisable, and if possible replace black tea.

-Very low consumption of red meats. Eating meat as it is usually prepared can increase the risk of lung cancer. In these patients the intake should not be greater than once a week.

-Consumption of skim milk and fermented. Milk should be taken at most twice a month, particularly if it is whole; It is much more convenient to skim. Fermented dairy products such as yogurts and probiotics are the best options. For them, there are no restrictions. As for cheeses, the best recommendations are ricotas or skim ricotta.

– Consume cereals. It is necessary to incorporate whole grain foods (such as whole wheat flour) to obtain maximum nutrients and not just empty calories as when white flour is ingested. Therefore, it advises to include wheat germ, wheat bran and oats, as well as whole wheat flour.

– Few fats. The patient should have an egg consumption of less than one per day. In addition, reduce red meats, fried foods, dairy products and desserts.

-Many vegetables. Raw vegetables must exceed three portions per week.

– Eat fruit. An average of one or more per day is optimal. All serve, season and citrus.

-Supplement with vitamins. In addition to citrus fruits, vitamin C supplements may be helpful to the patient. Some studies point to the desirability of ingesting vitamin D.