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Cancer Prevention Diet And Lifestyle

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While the question of whether a prevention diet and lifestyle will prevent a recurrence is being studied, indications are that it does help. It doesn't hurt. It is also something you can do to help you feel in control on a daily basis and prevent other diseases such as heart disease and diabetes.

  • Eat nutritiously. A diet low in fat and high in fruits and vegetables. (For practical information about nutrition, click here)
    • Rather than completely eliminate unhealthy comfort foods, consider limiting your comfort foods to once in a while (say once every few days or once a week). Keep extending the time between reaching for comfort food while heading to the ultimate goal of eliminating unhealthy foods or to at least keep them to a bare minimum.
    • The American Cancer Society recommends the following to help prevent cancer:
      • Vegetables and fruits: Eat at least 5 servings of vegetables (including legumes, or peas and beans) and fruits each day. Try to eat those with the most color (a sign of high nutrient content). These foods are packed with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and many other substances that work together to lower risk of a variety of cancers, including cancers of the mouth, esophagus,rectum, stomach, and colon. If prepared properly, vegetables and fruits are usually also low in calories, so eating them in place of higher-calorie foods can help control your weight.
      • Whole grains: Aim for at least 3 servings of whole grains each day. There are easy ways to add whole grains to your diet. For instance:
        • Eat oatmeal at breakfast 
        • Choose 100% whole-wheat bread or wraps for a lunchtime sandwich
        • Eat brown rice at dinner instead of white.
      • Processed and red meats: Cutting back on processed meats like hot dogs, bologna, bacon, and deli meat, and red meats like beef, pork, and lamb may help reduce the risk of colon and colorectal cancers. These foods are also high in saturated fat, so eating less of them and eating them less often will also help lower your risk of heart disease.
      • You can find complete guidelines for a Cancer Prevention Diet on the American Cancer Society website. Click here. offsite link 
    • There is also a general consensus that it is wise to:
    • Consumer Reports suggests that an easy way to get fruit and vegetables into your system is to make a smoothie. For instance, mix l/2 cup each of sliced carrots and cucumbers with 1 cup each of apple juice and sliced apple plus l/4 cup of applesauce. Blend with 2 cups of ice and a dash of nutmeg.
    • If you have a question about what eating well means:
      • For general information, one credible source of information is the United States Department of Agriculture's web offsite link.
      • For individualized information, consider speaking with a dietitian or nutritionist.  For information about choosing a dietitian or nutritionist, click here.
      • If you are undergoing treatment: Ask your oncologist, a nutritionist or dietician if there are foods you should start eating or avoiding that would make your treatment more effective or easier.
  • Make sure both food and water are safe. For example:
    • Practice proper techniques when handling or storing food. For information about food safety, click here.
    • Check your local water supply. Inexpensive filters are available if necessary. For water safety information, click here
  • Get rest by pacing yourself during the day and sleeping at night. (For practical information about sleep, click here
  • Exercise regularly.
    • Exercise helps move waste along in your system and helps rebuild your immune system after treatment. 
    • Speak with your doctor about the right amount and type of exercise for you. Studies indicate that 30 minutes of aerobic exercise most days improves response to chemotherapy, improves length of time of disease free survival, and improves mortality from all causes.
    • Exercise does not have to be in a gym. Simple activities can help. For instance:
      • Use the stairs instead of an elevator or escalator when possible.
      • Park further away from your destination so you have to walk further.
      • Walk briskly.(Walking is a particularly useful exercise while in treatment).
      • Walk a dog or other pet. [Studies also show that pets are good for your emotional well being. If you live in an apartment with a "no pets" rule, you may be entitled to an exception as an accommodation under the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA).]
      • For more information about fitting exercise into your daily life, click here.
    • Gyms:
      • If you belong to a gym:
        • Take precautions to avoid unnecessary infection. Gyms can be a hot house for bacteria.
        • Ask your doctor how long you will be unable to do your usual exercises. Most gyms will place a membership on hold for medical reasons so you don't pay for the time. 
      • If you are considering joining a gym, check our information about things to think about by clicking here.
    • If platelet counts become low: Avoid high-risk sports to prevent bleeding from injuries or rough contact.
    • To learn more about exercise, click here.
  • Relieve pain. In addition to getting rid of an unpleasant feeling, pain can keep you from exercising.
  • If you smoke, quit.  
    • Quitting helps reduce the odds that cancer will reappear. 
    • You’ll also reduce your risk of heart disease and other smoking related illnesses. 
    • For tips to help quit, click here.
  • If you are overweight, lose the extra weight
    • Obesity is a well established risk factor for some of the most common cancers. Evidence indicates that being overweight reduces the likelihood of survival for many cancers. Being overweight also increases the risk of a cancer recurrence. 
    • For information about how to lose weight, click here.
  • Do what you can to reduce stress levels. 
  • Seek treatment for persistent mood disturbances such as depression, fear and anxiety. For information, click here.
  • Connect with other people – both people you love and who enhance your life and other people with the same health situation.
    • For information about support groups (and what you can learn in them), click here.
    • For information about connecting with a buddy, click here.
  • Comply with drug regimens. For tips about how to comply, and other useful information about drugs, click here.
  • Reduce your exposure to carcinogens (substances that can cause cancer). Click here.
  • Subject to the approval of your doctor, consider taking vitamins and/or supplements to make up for any nutritional deficiencies and 1 aspirin pill daily.
  • Take care of your mouth. Infections can spread throughout the body. To learn about oral care, click here.
  • Avoid or limit consumption of alcohol. It is a risk factor for colorectal cancer as well as other cancers. To learn how, see WikiHow by clicking here offsite link
  • Limit the amount of time a mobile phone is next to your ear.Studies to date do not prove conclusively that there is a definite link between cell phone use and cancer. However, they also do not conclusively prove that cell phones do not cause cancer. Until evidence is conclusive one way or the other, consider the following:
    • Use a speaker phone or head phones to keep the phone away from your head.
    • Purchase a mobile phone with a lower rating of absorption into the body. This is known as a SAR (specific absorption rate) rating. You can find SAR ratings at by clicking here offsite link.
  • If your relationship with a doctor is not ideal, try to fix it. If it becomes difficult for you, consider looking for another doctor. To find out how to deal with difficulties, and how to switch doctors, click here and here respectively.
  • Consider getting a pet.  In addition to helping you feel good, a pet may help prolong your life.For more information, click here.
  • Bring humor into your life. "A laugh a day keeps the doctor away" -- or at least makes you feel better. For tips,click here.  
If eating or living healthy is a big jump for you, don’t try to do everything at once. Set goals for yourself and do your best to keep to them. For example, add a vegetable to your normal lunch at least 4 days a week. Then a 5th day. Etc. Add a flight of stairs one day. Then a second. Etc. If you find you are not keeping to your timeline, revise it so you get the feeling of accomplishment while helping your health.


  • It helps to try to keep a positive attitude. Each day will feel better. Experience indicates that a positive attitude will make it more likely that you'll follow a cancer preventive lifestyle and keep to treatment. To learn how to keep a positive attitude, click here.
  • Studies show that we are influenced by the behavior of the people close to us. It is likely to be easier to eat healthy if the people around you eat healthy. Helping your family unit eat healthy is something positive that can come from your cancer experience.
  • Fear and stress can reduce the disease fighting immune system. If a positive attitude doesn't prevent cancer, it makes each day better. 

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