Most of us know someone who is a cancer survivor or is currently fighting this ravaging disease. I’ve taken a strong interest in cancer prevention and survival largely because I’m shocked over and over at how confused many healthcare providers and consumers appear when it comes to cancer and nutrition. I’ve met several people who tell me that their doctors believe there isn’t a connection between nutrition and cancer. Yet some nutrition professionals and researchers argue that the cancer-nutrition connection is almost 100%! When I talk with patients or families, they are often confused about what the connection is, and often consume foods that I think no cancer patient should consume (and these foods are provided by the hospital!). What further confuses patients is that the education around the connection is inconsistent, or even influenced by profit. For example, formulary companies have helped set industry standards to promote weight maintenance among cancer patients. This is achieved with high calorie, high protein supplements – also sold by these companies – and are vigorously promoted in many hospitals.
Interestingly, I’ve heard oncology dietitians emphasize normalizing weight as quickly as possible, which is definitely a different message. Many dietitians promote reducing inflammation, and our diets and body weights are two very effective ways to achieve this.
Often, the advice dietitians might give for anti-cancer nutrition is opposing that which hospitals are promoting. What’s up with that?
While most of us now know that there is a wealth of evidence-based research exposing the links of cancer to nutrition, it is true that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. In other words, preventing cancer through good nutrition holds more promise than curing cancer through good nutrition. While I don’t expect MDs and surgeons to provide substantial nutrition education to their oncology patients, I do believe they are practicing responsible medicine by referring their cancer patients to a Registered Dietitian. It is a red flag if your oncologist does not believe that nutrition and cancer are related, as it is a sign that he or she likely lives under a rock in the bottom of the sea. To be fair to yourself and your provider, carefully clarify your MD’s position on nutrition and cancer to ensure you are understanding his or her philosophy. And ask for a dietitian referral if your MD doesn’t offer it initially.
So, what are the best answers for preventing and surviving cancer through nutrition? What does your body weight have to do with cancer? How do we chart the mucky and mischevious rivers, known as “nutrition guidelines”?
Join me as I interview Gretchen Gruender, an expert oncology dietitian at Seattle Cancer Care Alliance. She works closely with cutting edge oncologists and medical teams, guiding her patients with solid diet and lifeststyle advice. She will guide us along this river, giving us the tour of latest progressive insights behind nutrition and cancer. She will help us to identify the information we really need to know in cancer prevention and survivorship.
Are you interested in this topic? You have an opportunity to involve yourself in the audience. What questions do you have for Gretchen? Please write them in the comment box below, or post them on my Facebook page. I will select some of the questions to ask her on the show, and I will post this interview on my webpage for your review.
Love and Health,