Posts Tagged ‘nutrition’

33% of All U.S. Cancer Deaths Linked to Diet & Exercise

Nutrition to Fight CancerStudies consistently show that a good diet and regular exercise can reduce your risk of heart disease, but did you know you can also reduce your risk of cancer by eating well and regularly exercising? Our genes play a large role in whether we develop cancer (some cancer types more than others), but studies show, and our experts at the Winship Cancer Institute confirm, we can take action to lower our risk of developing many cancer types. By avoiding tobacco products, maintaining a healthy weight, eating a healthy diet and staying active, you can dramatically reduce your risk of dying from cancer.

I hosted an online chat on the topic of healthy eating during the holidays this week, and in it we covered lots of topics related to nutrition, health, exercise and wellness. Below are some of the most important takeaways from the chat for you to apply not just during the holidays, but year round!

Exercise: 

  • Achieve and maintain a healthy weight. We may tire of hearing it, but maintaining a healthy body weight is essential to your health.
  • As many as 1 out of 5 of all cancer-related deaths are linked to excessive body weight. Obesity is clearly linked with increase in several types of cancer, including breast, colon and rectum, edometrial, esophageal, kidney and pancreatic cancer.
  • Regular physical activity is critical to your health and wellness. Physical activity can help reduce the risk of breast, colon, endometrial and prostate cancers.
  • Adults should try to exercise for either 75 minutes per week at high intensity, or at least 150 minutes at moderate intensity each week. The latter equates to just two and a half hours of walking.
  • Children should exercise one hour each day at moderate intensity, but 3 days a week at high intensity, and limit sedentary activities such as sitting, lying down, playing video games, watching TV, etc.

Nutrition:

Maintain healthy eating habits by emphasizing consumption of a wide variety of fruits and vegetables. As I mentioned in the chat, all fruits and vegetables have protective and preventive cancer benefits. Here are some guidelines to consider when it comes to nutrition:

  • Eat at least 2 ½ cups of fruits and vegetables each day.
  • Choose whole grains as opposed to refined grain products (such as white rice).
  • Limit red meat and processed meat.
  • If you can’t get fresh produce, opt for frozen fruits and veggies over those in a can. Frozen produce is typically less processed and contains less sodium.
  • If you’re looking for protein options other than meat, try beans, nuts, soy, eggs, yogurt, cheese, milk, and whole grains such as barley and quinoa.

Lifestyle:

Limit your alcohol intake. Alcohol is a known risk factor for cancers of the mouth, throat, voice box, esophagus, liver, colon, rectum and breast.

  • Women should limit themselves to one drink a day.
  • Men should limit consumption to 2 drinks per day.

For more from our chat, you can view the chat transcript here. Although we can not totally prevent cancer, we have the ability to reduce our own risk by taking action. Winship wants to help you win the fight against cancer by arming you with as much knowledge as possible! If you have additional thoughts, questions, or tips to share, please do so using the comments below.

Tiffany Barrett, MS, RD, CSO, LDAbout Tiffany Barrett, MS, RD, CSO, LD

Tiffany Barrett provides personalized nutritional advice to Emory Winship patients who are undergoing cancer treatment. Ms. Barrett also consults with patients who have completed treatment and wish to continue to build a strong and healthy diet. She earned her Bachelor of Science at Florida State University and a Master of Science at University of North Florida. Tiffany is a Certified Specialist in Oncology Nutrition and completed a Certificate of Training in Adult Weight Management.

Related Resources

 

Bringing Survivorship Tools Closer to Home – Winship at the Y(MCA)

Most people are aware of the important role proper diet and exercise plays in disease prevention and management. At the Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University, we strongly recommend our patients maintain a healthy weight, exercise regularly and sustain a healthy diet both during and after cancer diagnosis. We encourage this not only so our patients can feel stronger and healthier during cancer treatment and return to a healthier life after treatment, but also because scientific evidence shows that proper diet and regular physical activity can help lower the chances of cancer coming back.

In fact, the American Cancer Society just released new guidelines on Nutrition and Exercise for cancer survivors. As most survivors know, life after cancer is not always easy, and returning to what was once considered “normal” prior to their cancer diagnosis does not always happen. At Winship, we consider all of our patients survivors from day one. To help them navigate their survivorship journey, our physicians and care team members are committed to making sure all survivors have easy access to the wide variety of support and programs available to them.

Recently, our team at Winship has teamed up with the YMCA of Metro Atlanta to make another lifestyle and support resource available to our patients. Winship at the Y was established to provide cancer survivors with better access to specialized exercise programs. YMCA wellness coaches and staff will be trained by the team at Winship— including Winship’s nurse practitioners, physician assistants, social workers and dieticians—on the specific fitness and exercises needs of cancer survivors.

The program, which is unlike any other in the country, is open to any cancer survivor, not just patients at the Winship Cancer Institute. Joan Giblin, a family nurse practitioner and Director of Winship’s Survivorship Program, developed this program from her desire to provide easily accessible cancer support to survivors in their own communities.

To learn more about ‘Winship at the Y’, watch Joan talk with CBS Atlanta reporter Jennifer Mayerle in the video below:

“Winship at the Y” locations:

Cowart Family/Ashford Dunwoody YMCA
3692 Ashford Dunwoody Road
Atlanta, GA 30319
770-451-9622

Decatur Family YMCA
1100 Clairemont Avenue
Decatur, GA 30030
404-377-9622

Ed Isakson/Alpharetta Family YMCA
3655 Preston Ridge Road
Alpharetta, GA 30005
770-664-1220

Carl E. Sanders Family YMCA at Buckhead
1160 Moores Mill Rd.
Atlanta, GA 30327
404-350-9292

Summit Family YMCA
1765 East Highway 34
Newnan, GA 30265
770-254-9622

J.M. Tull-Gwinnett Family YMCA
2985 Sugarloaf Parkway
Lawrenceville, GA 30045
770-963-1313

Andrew and Walter Young Family YMCA
2220 Campbellton Road
Atlanta, GA 30311
404-523-9622

Top 8 FAQs: Nutrition’s Role in Fighting Cancer

Nutrition to Fight CancerWe had a great discussion on April 11th about nutrition with Tiffany Barrett, MS, RD, CSO, LD. She answered some great questions about the importance of maintaining a healthy diet to fight off cancer and enhance treatment. If you missed out on our live chat, the transcript is available here. Also, see below for highlights from the discussion.

Q: What are some good foods to eat during cancer treatment or to prevent cancer from reoccurring?

A: When it comes to reducing the likelihood of recurrence, reducing saturated fat intake is very important. This includes eliminating animal fat, butter, lard, etc. It is important to increase your intake of plant foods and grains while incorporating a variety of produce into your diet (i.e. leafy greens, berries, etc.).

Q: Is there a role that sugar plays in cancer?

A: First, it’s important to note there’s a difference between natural and refined/processed sugars. Unlike naturally occurring sugars found in fruit and dairy, processed sugars are significantly correlated with elevated bad cholesterol and triglycerides (fat in blood) and low good cholesterol. Eating too much added sugars can also result in excess body weight, which can increase the risk of cancer. It is best to limit your intake of sugar and sugary foods to protect your health, limit excess calories and make room for nutrient-dense foods that contain naturally occurring sugars (fruit, low-fat dairy).

Q: What is a good substitute for sugar?

A: There always are options like stevia, honey and agave nectar, but all of these are a bit sweeter than real sugar, so using less of them is advised. It’s important to understand that using moderation in any sort of sweetener is key. If you are having sugar cravings, focus on natural sources of sugar.

Q: Is there a connection between soy products and cancer?

A: There is evidence that soy intake (whole soy foods, rather than processed) prior to cancer diagnosis can have preventive effects. This has been found specifically with breast, prostate, and colon cancers. Whole soy food includes tofu, soy milk, edamame, and soy beans, whereas processed soy is found in things like soy hot dogs, soy burgers, soy powders, etc.

Q: Is food the best source for receiving nutrients? What about supplements and vitamins?

A: Our body best digests and absorbs nutrients through food consumption. There’s actually no hard evidence to demonstrate benefit from a standard multivitamin or other supplement use. Consuming nutrients through food allows for a wider variety of vitamins.

Q: Are meal replacement drinks a feasible option to getting proper nutrition during cancer treatment?

A: Meal replacement drinks certainly can be and often are helpful in combating or overcoming some of the side effects of treatment, such as loss of appetite. There are a wide variety of meal replacement drinks that provide a full balance of necessary nutrition, and also ways that people can make their own protein and meal replacement drinks at home to suit their taste.

Q: Is there any connection between physical activity and cancer prevention?

A: Absolutely. Regular, moderate physical activity: 4-5 times per week for 30-45 minutes each time, has been shown to have preventive effects.

Q: How important is it to start early with good nutrition to receive preventive benefits?

A: Starting young as far as introducing good eating habits to children is imperative. It’s also important to educate at a young age about the importance of maintaining a healthy weight. Good nutrition and maintaining a healthy weight are important in reducing not only your risk for cancer, but for a whole host of other conditions that are largely preventable.

For more information on diet and nutrition, please visit Winship Cancer Institute at Emory University.  To make an appointment, please call 404-778-7777.

Related Resources:

Understanding Nutrition’s Role in Fighting Cancer

Nutrition's Role in Fighting CancerMaintaining a healthy diet is important, especially during cancer treatment. Your body is stressed– both from the treatment and cancer itself. It’s imperative to make sure that you’re getting the proper nutrition, vitamins, and minerals you need to stay strong and fight infections.

According to the American Cancer Society’s (ACS) Nutrition Guidelines, it’s best to eat a diet consisting of plant-based foods like fruits, vegetables, grains, and foods low in fat.

Omer Kucuk, MD and Professor of Hematology and Medical Oncology at Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University says, “there are bioactive compounds in foods, particularly in fruits and vegetables. These bioactive compounds have potent anti-cancer activities; for example, broccoli contains indole 3 carbinol, which has been shown to have anti-cancer affects, especially in prostate cancer and breast cancer.”

While certain foods have been show to help prevent cancer, evidence also shows that specific food compounds, such as soy isoflavones and curcumin, can increase the effectiveness of cancer treatment.

“We have found that soy isoflavones enhanced the efficacy of cancer treatment, specifically the efficacy of chemotherapy and radiation therapy. In addition to that, soy isoflavones may also prevent the side effects of these two cancer treatments,” reports Dr. Kucuk. Soy isoflavones are plant-derived compounds with estrogen-like activity that may help protect against hormone-dependent cancers according to ACS. Get more information on soy isoflavones and how proper nutrition can help during cancer treatments.

More in-depth studies are currently underway to find which bioactive compounds in foods aid in cancer treatment and reduce the risk of cancer recurrence. The American Cancer Society reports “that a higher intake of vegetables may have a helpful effect on recurrence or survival for breast, prostate, and ovarian cancers, but this is not definite.”

Still, ACS recommends that cancer survivors get at least five servings of colorful fruits and vegetables each day due to the overall benefit they provide. All cancer and cancer treatments affect the body differently. An individualized nutrition plan based on your likes and dislikes, and what your stomach can handle, is going to be beneficial during your treatment journey. A registered dietitian can help you and your family answer questions and address concerns about managing your diet, weight, treatment side effects, and supplement information.

If you’re looking for specific tips, ideas, and ways to incorporate cancer fighting foods into your diet, check out the transcript from our online live chat on Nutrition’s Role in Fighting Cancer. Also, check out Emory Healthcare’s recipe page for some easy, tasty and healthy dishes!

Related Resources:

 

Dietary Recommendations & Nutrition for Cancer Patients – Keep Your Body Strong During Cancer Treatment

dietary recommendations for cancer patientsMost of us know that fruits, veggies and whole grains are important parts of a healthy diet, but you may not know that people diagnosed with cancer have very different nutritional needs from the average adult. In fact, many cancer treatments can make it difficult for cancer patients to get enough nutrition, and, for some, can even make it difficult just to eat. Cancer patients, especially those undergoing treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation, can combat some of the weakness and fatigue with nutrition that strengthens their health.

While cancer treatments are designed to obliterate cancerous cells, they also can kill off healthy cells in the process. As a result of this healthy cell damage, side effects, such as those that pose a barrier to eating, can present themselves. Dry mouth, nausea, vomiting, constipation and changes in a patient’s taste, smell and general appetite are not uncommon. While these symptoms can make it difficult or unappealing to eat, some cancer treatments also can result in changes inside the body that hinder the body’s ability to absorb the nutrients being consumed. Both the decline in ability or desire to eat, and the decline in the body’s ability to properly absorb food can add to the already ever-present sense of fatigue and weakness facing many cancer patients. So the question is, what can cancer patients do from a nutritional standpoint to support their body in beating the fight against cancer?

  • Start eating healthy before treatment starts - building strength prior to cancer treatment is key. It will help you build a foundation and do a better job of maintaining strength during treatment.
  • Eat extra protein and calories - cancer patients often need more calories, specifically, calories from protein than non-cancer patients. Higher protein levels help support your strength and aid in fighting fatigue and weakness.
  • Recognize patterns – you may notice as a cancer patient that your appetite is strongest, for example, in the mornings. If that’s the case, prioritize taking in more calories during that time.
  • Talk with a dietitian – most cancer treatment programs will (and should) include the opportunity for cancer patients to consult with a registered dietitian. Seek advice from your treatment team, including your doctors and nurses, and if available to you through your treatment plan, your dietitian. They can help make specific recommendations based on your body and the symptoms you’re experiencing.
  • Lots of liquids – whenever you’re able, take in as much healthy liquid as possible, especially water. Hydration is key to your body being able to perform at its optimal state and fight infection
  • Don’t make your immune system work any harder – some cancer treatment options can compromise the immune system of cancer patients and make it harder to fight off infection. Make sure to pay special attention to food handling, cooking and storing techniques. If you are a cancer patient, avoid buffets and buying food in bulk from bins that can increase the bacteria to which you are exposed. Similarly, stay away from unpasteurized liquids, raw fish and other foods and drinks that can expose you to increased and potentially harmful bacteria.

Hear More from Dr. Kucuk on Nutrition for Cancer Patients in the Podcast Below:


For more tips and nutrition information for cancer patients, the National Cancer Institute (NCI) has a great ebook, “Eating Hints,” that offers lots of information, ideas, and recommendations on how cancer patients can better cope with their disease through nutrition.

You also can learn more right here at home from Winship at Emory’s Nutrition Services program.

Healthy Grilling – You can have fun and be healthy, too

Healthy GrillingGrilling is more than just a way to cook in the summertime.  It’s also a social event and a bonding experience. While cookouts are great for dusting off your “Kiss the Cook” apron and chatting with your neighbors, it’s important to keep your health in mind as well.

Eating red meat has long been considered a potential risk factor in developing certain types of cancer. Not to rain on your picnic and cookout, but there has been a large body of research conducted in the past few years that suggests grilling these meats is even worse for your health than if you baked or roasted them. The American Institute for Cancer Research recently conducted a meta-analysis on the causes of colorectal cancer and determined that consuming grilled or processed meats is a  “convincing” cause of the disease.

Why?

When meat is grilled using high levels of heat, the muscle proteins are broken down, causing the formation of compounds called heterocyclic amines (HCAs).  The longer the meat is cooked, the more HCAs form. The Department of Health and Human Services named HCAs on their list of carcinogens in 2005 due to their capabilities to damage DNA.  In fact, a recent study found that people who regularly consumed well-done meat were 60 percent more likely to get cancer.

It is also suggested to avoid the consumption of processed meats such as sausage, hot dogs, salami, bacon, ham, and pepperoni. This is because many of these foods contain the meat preservatives nitrates and nitrites, which have been linked to both colon and bladder cancers in humans.

Still want to have your steak and eat it too?

Here are some helpful ways to cook meat in a healthier manner:

  • Use a microwave to preheat the meat to reduce the time it spends on the grill.
  • Cover the surface of the grill with punctured aluminum foil and avoiding charring the meat or exposing it to flame.
  • Prepare smaller or thinner pieces, as it takes less time for them to cook.
  • Use meat with lower fat content, as more fat means more flames.
  • Flip the meat frequently to avoid constant exposure  to high temperatures.
  • Keep your grill rack as high as possible so that the meat is farther away from the flames.
  • Marinate meat for at least 10 minutes to help to protect it from burning.

About Dr. Dr. Bassel El-Rayes

Dr. Bassel El-Rayes, associate professor of Hematology and Medical Oncology at Winship Cancer Institute of Emory University and an expert in treating gastrointestinal cancers, notes that it is important to think of grilling other things besides meat. Salmon and other fish are healthy options, for example. Also, Dr. El-Rayes reminds people to include plenty of fruits, vegetables and legumes for a healthy cookout. Adding such things as watermelon, strawberries, squash, peppers and tomatoes not only makes the menu more inviting but also keeps it healthy, Dr. El-Rayes says.

To learn more, visit:

 

Can Fruits and Vegetables Really Fight Cancer?

Just one more reason why healthy eating should be one of your resolutions this year!

fruit vegetables cancer preventionDid you know that…

  • Broccoli has preventative properties related to prostate and breast cancer?
  • Lycopene found in tomatoes, guava and even watermelon can help fight cancer?
  • Compounds found in soy and legumes are known for their anti-cancer power?

While the power of food related to cancer has only been evaluated over the past few decades, the knowledge of the medicinal properties of food date back 6,000 years when Chinese emperors used soy for its curative power.

Back in the 1980s, when only a handful of researchers were exploring how specific foods may prevent cancer, Omer Kucuk, MD, was one of those researchers. Today a professor of hematology and medical oncology at Emory Winship, Kucuk focuses on food’s effect on cancer prevention and treatment, as well as its effect on other diseases such as osteoporosis.

Many foods, particularly fruits, vegetables and legumes, contain bioactive compounds that display potent anticancer activities, says Kucuk. For example, evidence exists that specific food compounds such as soy isoflavones and curcumin can increase the effectiveness of chemotherapy and radiation therapy in patients with advanced prostate cancer.

What’s more, many nutritional compounds used for therapy or disease prevention can be taken as part of a routine diet and have little if any side effects, explains Kucuk. “The tomato carotenoid lycopene has cancer-preventing properties. People can get enough lycopene by eating tomato paste and tomato sauce, which is very rich in lycopene. So, if people ate a couple of ounces of tomato paste a day as part of a regular diet, they would eat enough to get all the benefits,” Kucuk says.

To hear Kucuk’s own words about these food compounds, listen to his podcast on the topic. Subscribe to Emory’s Sound Science for more podcasts from our Emory doctors.