Nutritional therapists hold that a certain diet and certain supplements are an important part of the cancer treatment process. The goals include encouraging the proliferation of healthy cells, enhancing the immune system, and inhibiting cancerous tumors from growing. In general, the diet of someone with cancer should be:
- rich in organic whole grains, vegetables, and fruits
- high in fiber
- low in refined sugars and low in sodium
- low in fat (deriving about 15 percent of daily calories from fat)
A vegetarian diet, with no meat, poultry, or fish, is recommended on the basis that it doesn't supply excess iron, a mineral that many types of tumors require to grow. The fat, chemicals, and other hormones found in red meat and chicken and the mercury and other pollutants found in fish caught in polluted water are also of great concern.
Shark cartilage -- Shark cartilage holds promise for people with cancer. Here's why: Cartilage -- whether it comes from sharks or humans -- has no need for an attached network of blood vessels to supply nutrients and oxygen and carry away wastes. Because of this, cartilage carries a substance that prevents blood vessels from forming. A cancerous tumor, on the other hand, does need a blood supply to thrive. Taking cartilage supplements can prevent the tumor from getting what it needs. Under this treatment, people with advanced cancer have reported their tumors stabilizing in size or shrinking.
Vitamin C -- High doses of vitamin C are often prescribed to cancer patients. Researchers, including the famous vitamin C guru and Nobel laureate Linus Pauling, have found that people with cancer can experience shrinkage in tumor size after vitamin C treatments. It may also reduce some of the side effects of chemotherapy and radiation treatment.
Vitamin C is an antioxidant, which renders free radical compounds powerless. Occurring naturally in the body, free radicals have the ability to damage tissue and speed the aging process. Antioxidants are often recommended to prevent some forms of cancer. Other nutrients that are antioxidants include:
- vitamin A
- vitamin E
Vitamin C functions to fight cancer in two other important ways as well: 1) It enhances the body's production of the connective tissue collagen, which can help to wall off the tumor; and 2) it enhances immune function, allowing the body to destroy cancer cells.
Other emerging supplements -- Coenzyme Q10 has been shown to be effective (at high doses) in the treatment of breast cancer. Melatonin in fairly high doses has been shown to improve the quality of life of patients with advanced solid tumors. And pH-modified citrus pectin was recently reported to aid in the prevention of metastatic (spreading) tumors of several types, including cancers of the breast, prostate, and skin. Because most cancer patients die as the result of a metastatic tumor and not the primary tumor, this is a potentially significant treatment option.
Prevention -- Diet is estimated to be a contributing factor in 35 percent of cancer deaths. A first preventive step is avoiding the possible triggers of various types of cancer, which include:
- high-fat diet
- lack of fiber
- deficiency in vitamin A
- food additives
A practitioner of nutritional therapy may prescribe a high dose of vitamin C per day, which will require monitoring by the practitioner. High doses also are sometimes given intravenously to cancer patients.