The Need for Guidance
Cancer survivorship begins at the time of cancer diagnosis and lasts for the balance of life. Each year in the US more than 1.2 million people are diagnosed with cancer. There are now approximately nine million people in the US who are cancer survivors.1 After a diagnosis of cancer, many survivors are highly motivated to seek information about diet, physical activity, dietary supplement use, and nutritional complementary therapies. Soon, though, they discover that it is difficult to find answers to even the simplest of questions, such as: Should I eat less fat? Should I try to lose weight? Should I take vitamin supplements? Should I begin an herbal therapy?
Cancer survivors often receive dietary advice from family, friends, and health care providers, as well as from the media, health food stores, and the nutritional supplement industry. Magazine articles, books, Internet postings, family, and friends present cancer survivors with a wide range of options and choices about what to eat, how to exercise, and what types of supplements or herbal remedies might improve the outcome of standard cancer therapy. Annie Appleseed Project believes that eating ORGANIC whenever possible is a really good idea. (pesticides accumulate in our fat cells)
In addition, claims abound on the use of dietary and nutritional or herbal supplements as alternatives to standard therapy. This advice is often conflicting, making informed choices difficult. What is the cancer survivor to believe? How are general recommendations to be reconciled with the individual’s immediate and long-term needs? On what basis are these important informed decisions to be made?
Nutrition and physical activity guidelines for the prevention of cancer have been established by the American Cancer Society (ACS) and are now widely used. The goal of the prevention guidelines is to reduce cancer incidence. In contrast, the information presented in this article is intended for both cancer survivors and those who care for them, including health care providers, families, and friends, through all phases of cancer survival.
This compilation and review of information from numerous sources is intended to facilitate informed decision-making on a wide range of issues and choices about foods, physical activity, nutritional supplements, and nutritional complementary and alternative therapies.
This is not a comprehensive review on the effects of nutrition and physical activity in people who have been diagnosed with and treated for cancer, nor is it a guideline of specific recommendations. It does not cover medical issues in nutrition and metabolism, such as parenteral nutrition, calculations of nutritional needs in specific medical situations, and selection of specific diets that may be prescribed for hospital inpatients.
Rather, this report presents and discusses both the scientific evidence and the important practical issues that should be considered in helping patients make informed choices about their nutrition and physical activity practices after a cancer diagnosis.
It is very important for patients to consider the nutritional and physical activity issues discussed in this document in the context of their overall medical and wellness situation. For example, although we present nutritional suggestions for patients with nausea or fatigue, we recognize that other medical interventions are likely to have a greater impact on these symptoms.
In writing these suggestions, we have assumed that the patient is already receiving appropriate medical and nursing care and is seeking information on self-care strategies to relieve symptoms and enhance health and quality of life.