Cancer And Its Dietary Management By Poonam Duneja

Good diet can help cancer patients fight the deadly disease. Nutritionist Poonam Duneja shares how to manage your diet to help you sustain with Cancer.

Cancer And Its Dietary Management By Poonam Duneja

Cancer is a group of diseases involving abnormal cell growth or proliferation with the potential to invade or spread to other parts of the body. These abnormal cells are termed cancer cells, malignant cells or tumor cells. These cells can break away from this original mass of cells, travel through the blood and lymph systems, infiltrate normal cells and lodge in other organs where they can again repeat the uncontrolled growth cycle. This process of cancer cells leaving an area and growing in another body area is called metastasis.

Development of tumors is a cancerous growth but not all tumors are cancerous or malignant. Benign tumors do not spread to other parts of the body.

Predisposing Factors

Cancers are caused by any factor/causative agent that triggers a normal body cell to develop abnormally.

Genetics: There is a strong correlation between hereditary and cancer. Cancer is caused by multiple mutations .The cancer gene is already inherited as mutated gene and more tendency of developing cancer.

Chemical or toxic compound exposures: Exposure to chemicals which can cause mutation and cause cancerous growth is called carcinogens. Examples of carcinogens include asbestos, benzene, cadmium; nickel in workplace can cause cancer.

Lonizing Radiations: Mutations can be caused by ionizing radiations. Such radiations cause cell damage. Such radiations come from rays that enter from outer surface, radon gas, radioactive elements, X-rays.

Sunlight: Ultraviolet rays come from the sun,sunlamps and tanning booths. It causes early aging of skin and sun damage that can lead to cancer.

Pathogens: Being infected by certain viruses or bacteria may increase the risk of developing cancer.

HPV infection causes cervical cancer, Hepatitis B and C can cause liver cancer after many years of infection.HIV is at a greater risk of cancer such as lymphoma.

Hormones: Those hormones used for replacement therapy have been shown to contribute to cancer development. Estrogen along with progestin is prescribed to control problems in menopausal women. These can cause serious side effects like breast cancer, heart attack, stroke or blood clots.

Smoking and Alcohol: Smoking is responsible for cancer in mouth, pharynx, larynx and esophagus.

Signs and Symptoms

  • A new lump in breast, testicles or elsewhere
  • Abnormal bleeding
  • A prolonged cough
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Persistent fatigue, nausea or vomiting ,
  • Unexplained low grade, recurring infections which do not clear with usual treatment.
  • Change in bladder movements
  • Indigestion (usually chronic) or difficulty swallowing.

Nutritional Needs

Primary goal for cancer patient is to maintain a high level of body nutrition and preventive states of malnutrition. It is more difficult to replenish a malnourished patient than a nourished individual.


To prevent excess weight loss, total value of diet should be increased. Calories should be sufficient to counter catabolic state and to support anabolism. For a normal adult, approx. 2000 Kcal for maintenance and a more malnourished patient may require 3000-4000 Kcal.

Foods Allowed

  • Fruits and vegetables: A variety of colorful fruits and vegetables.
  • Protein foods: Plant proteins like beans, lentils and nuts, lean animal protein like chicken, fatty fish rich in omega -3.
  • Low fat dairy and dairy alternatives like milk, cheese, yogurt, soy, almond and rice alternatives.

  • Whole grains and starchy vegetables like oats, quinoa, barley, wheat, corn, potatoes.
  • Nutritious fats like olive oil, nut butters, avocado, and nuts.
  • Beverages like water, tea, coffee, milk.

Foods Limited

  • Sugar: sweetened beverages, cereals, granola bars, candy, cookies, and cakes.
  • Refined carbs: white flour, white bread, white rice, white pasta.
  • Red meat and processed food: beef, pork, sausage, pepperoni.
  • Trans fats: commercially packaged peanut butters, margarines, cake mixes. Read labels and look for partially hydrogenated vegetable oils in the ingredient list.

About The Author

Poonam Duneja

Poonam Duneja is a qualified sport and clinical nutritionist as well as a fitness consultant. She is a wellness coach who gives nutrition counselling for weight management and l.. Read More..


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