The Healthy-Eating Advice Many Cancer Survivors Aren’t Taking

Healthy eating

More Americans than ever—an estimated 13.7 million—can now call themselves cancer survivors. With this good news comes a downside: a greater risk for chronic health problems, such as obesity and heart disease, and even an earlier death.

A recent study suggests one reason why. Researchers compared the eating habits of 1,500 cancer survivors with those of 3,000 people with no history of the disease. People with cancer have room for improvement in their diets, the results show. For instance, they:

  • Consumed more empty calories. Solid fat, alcohol, and added sugars lack good-for-you nutrients. What’s more, alcohol can contribute to cancer recurrence. Drink moderately (one drink per day for women, two for men) if you choose to imbibe.
  • Lacked vital vitamins. Survivors got less than one-third of the daily recommended amount of vitamin D and less than half their vitamin E. Vitamin D is found in fatty fish, like salmon and tuna; egg yolks; and fortified foods, like cereals. And nuts, seeds, vegetable oils, and green leafy vegetables contain vitamin E.
  • Missed out on minerals. Specifically, they lacked calcium for bone health and potassium, which helps maintain normal blood pressure by blunting the effects of sodium. Boost your intake of both with low-fat dairy foods and leafy greens.
  • Served up extra sodium and saturated fat. Mostly found in animal sources and high-fat dairy food, saturated fats contribute to heart disease and perhaps some cancers. Limit red meat to no more than three to four servings per week. Meanwhile, cut back on sodium—which boosts blood pressure—by avoiding packaged, processed foods.

Are you or a loved one a cancer survivor? WCHN offers numerous support services to help patient through and post cancer treatment. Find more information here: