Cancer Survivors’ Poor Eating Creates High Health Risk
Some cancer survivors are inspired to learn about better food choices and dietary ways to improve their health, but a recent study shows that many are not doing this.
Newly released research has found that cancer survivors eat a less healthy, nutritious diet than the general population. The cancer survivors were found to not follow the Healthy Eating Index Guidelines as much as people who have not had cancer. Green vegetables and whole grains were particularly low.
Why is eating a healthy diet important for cancer survivors?
Cancer survivors usually have a higher risk of chronic health problems and are more susceptible to relapses. One of the easiest things they can do to help prevent the possibility of health issues is to improve their diet.
It is known that a diet full of the right nutrients is helpful in preventing cancer. Fruits and vegetables can help protect against several cancers.
This was what instigated the research at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science. The subjects consisted of 1533 cancer survivors (majority of cancer survivors were women (66 percent) and non-Hispanic whites (83 percent) with 3075 people who had never had cancer). Researchers analyzed and compared the diets using the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey from 1999 to 2010 using the Healthy Eating Index Guidelines. They did a comparison on those who had survived cancer with people who have never had cancer.
Research Found the Diet of Cancer Survivors to Have…
- A healthy eating index of 47.2 and those who have not had cancer was 48.3. Although this is not a big difference, it brings into consideration that some will have already adjusted their diet to be healthier and have a distinct motivation to have a healthy diet.
- Less fiber, fewer vegetables and whole grains.
- Full of empty calories, low in nutrients.
- Low dietary intake of vitamin D, vitamin E, potassium, and calcium.
- High amounts of saturated fats and sodium.
Research, Also Found Age, Education and Smoking a Big Factor
- The older the age of cancer survivors, the healthier their diet.
- Survivors with lower education (high school or less) had a much less healthy diet than those with a higher education.
- Smoking survivors have a much less healthy diet than non-smokers or former smokers.
- Breast cancer survivors had the healthiest diets while lung cancer survivors had the unhealthiest diets. The World Cancer Research Fund International’s Continuous Update Project has found that a plant-based diet helps breast cancer patients maintain their health.
“Nutrition is one of the cornerstones for cancer prevention and control. Unfortunately, nutrition is not typically integrated into the delivery of optimal care for cancer patients,” said Dr. Zhang, the lead researcher of the study.
Health professionals treating cancer patients need to discuss with them the importance of their food intake and their health, Zhang advises. Just a few changes in diet can have a major health impact.
When we eat a diet full of deeply nourishing Powerfoods we are nourishing our body so it can be healthy.
“The body is always doing its best to maintain and govern itself given the nutrients that are consumed.” – T. Colin Campbell