Understanding the role of diet, lifestyle changes in fighting cancer


February 04, 2021, 1:03 p.m. IS

New Delhi [India]February 4th (ANI): People around the world need to be aware of diet and other lifestyle changes that can be implemented to help them recover and possibly reduce the risk of the same cancer recurring or getting a new one developed.
World Cancer Day, designed to spread awareness, encourage change and reduce the global impact of cancer, is celebrated on February 4th each year. On this World Cancer Day, let’s examine the role of diet and lifestyle changes in reducing the risk of the deadly disease.
Cancer doesn’t develop overnight, and certain lifestyle changes and foods can help us prevent the life-threatening disease. Although the vital role of nutrition in well-being was known a few hundred years ago in ancient healing methods such as traditional Chinese medicine, it often plays a minor role in modern society.
A balanced plant-based diet with limited amounts of fast foods, sugary drinks, red meat, and alcohol is recommended for better health. Such a lifestyle helps prevent both cancer and other non-communicable diseases (NCDs) due to common risk factors. Although these facts are well known, the numbers are still alarming.
Some of the most common cancers in India are caused by poor lifestyle and hygiene practices. For example, smoking excessively causes lung and oral cancer, while alcohol consumption causes cancers of the colon, liver and breast.
Dr. ArunGiri, director of the Surgical Oncology Department at Aakash Healthcare, Dwarka, spoke to ANI about the role of diet and lifestyle changes that can help control cancer.
“Tobacco and alcohol-free lifestyles can significantly reduce the burden of cancer. Good nutrition helps prevent cancer. Plant-based diets of leafy green vegetables and lentils, legumes and fruits provide nutrients and fiber,” said Dr. ArunGiri.
A minimum of 25 to 38 grams of fiber is required, which can be obtained from one fruit per day along with two cups of vegetables and lentils. Processed foods and packaged fruit juices must also be avoided, as they contain added salt and sugar, both of which are major contributors to increasing cancer risk.
One also has to take care of the oil they use – mustard oil, olive oil, and rice bran oil are all considered good for overall health unless one is allergic to the ingredients.

Cancer is also one of the main reasons men and women lose their fertility as cancer treatment in or around reproductive organs affects their performance. Therefore, a large number of cancer patients could not enjoy parenting in the past. However, with the advancement of reproductive science, cancer patients can turn to assisted reproductive technology (ART) and in vitro fertilization processes (IVF) to have children after their treatment is finished.
Dr. Gauri Agarwal, IVF and Infertility Specialist, Founder of Seeds of Innocence, sheds light on the role of food and nutrition in preparing recovered cancer patients for parenthood.
She said, “Diet plays a crucial role in preparing the recovered cancer patient for parenting. A balanced diet including whole grains, legumes, lentils, fruits, eggs, chicken, fish, dairy products like milk, cheese and yogurt is a must.”
“Grains provide carbohydrates, soluble fiber, and B vitamins, while meat and legumes provide protein that helps build and repair body tissue. Fruits and vegetables provide vitamins and minerals, and dairy products provide calcium for better bones,” added Dr. Gauri added.
With the advancement in cancer treatment, many patients are now hoping for a normal life after battling the deadly disease and therefore do not want to forego parenting.
There is not much evidence of nutritional risk related to cancer awareness, although studies are currently being conducted. However, maintaining a healthy lifestyle, regular exercise, and eating fruits and vegetables are important.
Dr. PaturiKarunakar Reddy, Surgical Oncology Consultant at Apollo TeleHealth, spoke to ANI about the link between obesity and breast cancer.
Reddy said, “Obesity and certain comorbidities like diabetes have been shown to be risk factors for endometrial cancer and breast cancer. Avoid tobacco, smoke and alcohol use, which have been shown to be risk factors for oral cancer and stomach and breast cancer.”
Sun exposure should be avoided, although it is important for the human body and has an important role in the supply of vitamin D. However, it’s a proven risk factor for skin cancer like squamous and basal cells, and melanoma, but a good amount of sunscreen could work wonders for the skin.
In terms of cancer awareness, there were screening programs, particularly for the breast and cervix, that needed more encouragement. Awareness of women over 40 and family history play an important factor in breast cancer.
In conclusion, the deadly disease paradox is that a large number of all cancer cases can be prevented by eating healthy, leading a healthy and balanced lifestyle, and being aware of the various symptoms and how to treat them. (ANI)