Demystifying Nutrition During & After Cancer Treatment

Written By Christy Brissette

Most of us search online for nutrition advice, so it’s important that we use trustworthy websites. A recent review of cancer centre websites found that most of them lack nutrition recommendations. Even more concerning, the few websites that did offer nutritional guidance presented information that was often conflicting. The review was published in Nutrition and Cancer: An International Journal.

The authors also pointed out that many of the websites didn’t offer information that was specific to the type or location of the cancer. For example, the nutrition needs of a head and neck cancer survivor are often very different from a breast cancer survivor. One issue is body weight. Many cancer institution websites offer general information on how to prevent weight loss on treatment. However, weight gain has been shown to be a common side effect of breast, endometrial, ovarian and prostate cancer treatments. The individual differences, wide variety of side effects and different levels of severity that can occur due to cancer and its treatment makes it impossible to promote a single way of eating for all cancer types. This is why more tailored nutrition advice is needed.

I can understand the concerns and challenges from both sides. On one hand, cancer survivors and caregivers are looking for individualized nutrition advice specific to their needs. On the other hand, registered dietitians (RDs) and health care providers are hesitant to put more specific information online due to concerns that it can pose a risk if that information is not used correctly.

Nutritional science is still a relatively young field and we are constantly learning more about how food impacts health and wellness. I know that sifting through all of this information and figuring out whether it should affect your food choices can be frustrating. What will the next healthy fat be: coconut oil, canola oil, butter or margarine? While there can be conflicting information out there on this and many other nutrition topics, I will be decoding the current science to give you the information you need to make the healthiest eating choices possible.

With the ELLICSR Kitchen programs and the launch of this blog, my aim is to address some of these gaps and offer more specific, practical nutrition information that cancer survivors and caregivers can use. I will be blogging monthly about the most popular nutrition questions and addressing the themes that are top of mind for many of you. Some posts may apply to your situation and others will not, but I will try to make this as clear as possible. Please send your nutrition questions to Christy@ELLICSRkitchen.ca.

Wishing all of you a joyful spring!