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Cancer and Nutrition

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It's often difficult to maintain a good appetitie and nutritional status when fighting cancer. Here are some tips from cancer experts and dietitians that may help:

  • Fresh ginger (not ginger flavoring), taken about 1/2 hour before eating can lessen or even eliminate nausea, but  common in many sodas.
  • Eat more protein and less fat and/or fiber; eat smaller meals more frequently throughout the day--maybe 5-6
  • Drink more between meals than during them
  • Foods prepared at room temperature have less odors than warm or hot foods
  • Bland foods might help with nausea; example: Farina, Cream of Wheat
  • Don't try your usual comfort foods if you are vomiting; it may create a a feeling of repugnance.
  • Certain cancer medications, especially painkillers can lead to constipation; if over the nausea, restart the fiber supplements.
  • If having diarrhea, stay hydrated and avoid excesses in juices
  • If foods now taste metallic, try citrus food produces and/or candies
  • Watch for treatment-caused, but correctable, zinc deficiency.
  • Avoid natural remedies, e.g., St. John's wort or hi dose vitamin C can adversley interact with anticancer medications
  • High calorie and protein milkshake supplements like Ensure can provide extra nutrients

The American Cancer Society's toll-free hot line - 1-800-ACS-2345 connects patients in the Southeast to dietitians on call, and will find nutrition answers for people elsewhere. Obviously, you can use the Web to find nearby registered dietitians.

Look for recipes targeted to cancer patients. The cancer society posts some of them at, including in cookbook form.

From the Associated Press' Cancer Nutrition Tips May 18, 2009