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New nutrition guidelines for cancer survivors

There is a lot we know about the best food and lifestyle choices to help someone lower the risk of developing cancer. But what about once a person has cancer? New nutrition and physical activity guidelines give the best advice for what cancer survivors should aim for.

Thanks to earlier detection and much better treatment options, cancer today is certainly not a death sentence. Well over half of people diagnosed will be alive after 5 years.

Cancer survivors are very motivated to seek information about food choices, physical activity, and dietary supplements to help improve their treatment and reduce the risk of the cancer coming back again. To address the strong need for credible evidence-based information for such situations, the American Cancer Society has just released a new set of guidelines offering informed choices to be used by people with cancer and for those successfully treated for cancer. The full guidelines are a vailable for free download from here.

The recommendations
Acknowledging the growing body of research showing a lower rate of recurrence of breast, colorectal, prostate and ovarian cancer in people who keep active, achieving at least 150 minutes of moderate activity per week and regular weight training is now a chief recommendation in the guidelines.

Excess weight is major factor in explaining the risk of many cancers developing, so it is no surprise that keeping weight in check is an important recommendation for cancer survivors.

Fruits, vegetables and wholegrains all feature prominently for dietary choices for cancer survivors. Several observational studies have linked higher rates of cancer survival from eating more of these types of foods and less red meat, processed foods, and sugar-laden desserts.

When it comes to advice on dietary supplements, the American Cancer Society has hardened its stance and advises completely avoiding them unless in cases of diagnosed nutrient deficiency or very poor food intake. There is little credible research to show that dietary supplements improve outcomes in cancer patients, with the majority of research showing no benefit and evidence for higher rates of mortality in otherwise healthy people.

The guidelines also have a detailed patient-centred ‘Common Questions’ section covering such topics as: Does sugar feed cancer? Are soy foods good for me? What food safety precautions should I follow? Should I juice my vegetables? Along with many others.

Good nutrition and a healthy lifestyle will put the odds more in favour of a person surviving cancer. Seeking advice from credible sources such as the recommendations put forward here and from health professionals experienced in working in the area of cancer will allow a person to make informed choices about how they want to best to manage their own health.


Confused about the mixed soup of nutrition messages being stirred through the media? Tim maintains an active nutrition blog at where you’ll find the latest nutrition research and controversies discussed in straight forward language, distilling out what you need to know for your better health.

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