Over the last two years, I’ve loved being part of several workshops for dietitians and chefs who are bringing a new approach to cancer care. It’s about actively engaging those diagnosed with cancer in learning to choose and prepare healing foods and a health-promoting diet.
That’s important because cancer patients undergoing treatment and after can face a lot of eating challenges, including changes in appetite, energy, and food preferences. These choices can take a toll on strength, vitality and even ability to continue a treatment plan.
Q: Does flaxseed protect against breast cancer or increase the risk?
A: Flaxseed most often raises questions regarding breast cancer because of its compounds called lignans. These compounds, sometimes called phytoestrogens, have a chemical structure similar to estrogen. At first glance, it might seem that would increase risk of estrogen-sensitive (ER-positive) breast cancer, which is spurred by excess estrogen.
However, research suggests these tiny brown seeds do not increase cancer risk and could even be protective.
In animal studies of human breast cancer, flaxseed and lignans isolated from it reduce breast cancer development, slow growth of existing breast tumors and lower levels of several growth factors that promote breast cancer. Human studies are limited but suggest that if anything, including one to four tablespoons of flaxseed per day might reduce breast cancer risk, especially in post-menopausal women. Read more… “HealthTalk: Flaxseed and Breast Cancer”
For cancer patients and survivors, learning what to eat for the energy they need and to support their treatment can be powerful medicine. Fortunately, an increasing number of clinics have specialists in oncology nutrition who help patients navigate the often complex diet needs. I talked with one of these experts, Angela Hummel, about helping people with cancer do just that.
What do patients ask you the most?
People really want to know what’s the best thing to eat for fighting cancer. Although there’s no one answer, I encourage patients to focus on eating as healthy of a diet as they can. Getting enough nutrients is key to support a strong immune system and to repair your body. Patients and caregivers can get creative and make eating more enjoyable by making smoothies, flavorful soups or foods that are easy to to eat, like muffins. Read more… “Powerful Medicine – A Cancer RD Talks about Diet for Patients/Survivors”
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