“Doctor, my cancer treatment is complete. Henceforth, what foods should I avoid?”
“I had breast cancer. Should I avoid milk?”
“Isn’t it better for my father to give up eating meat, now that he has recovered from colon cancer?”
“I have stopped eating rice. I eat only millets now”
The recurring theme in these very common questions among cancer survivors is – how can I modify my diet to reduce the risk of my cancer coming back?
It is a natural and attractive assumption that modifying one’s diet should help in some way to prevent a cancer recurrence. Plus, our food intake is something that is in our control, something that we have power over.
This article on How To Avoid Getting Cancer gives a general overview on a good lifestyle that can help prevent upto 50% of cancers. When it comes to eating, the simple recommendation is a balanced and nutritious diet, with plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, and a reasonably low intake of processed food.
However, beyond a regular healthy diet, there is no convincing medical evidence that giving up certain foods altogether (milk products, sweets, meat, spices, etc), or overconsumption of certain foods (millets, turmeric, herbs, plant extracts, etc) reduce cancer recurrences.
Just like most things in life, moderation is key when it comes to good eating habits after recovering from cancer. A diet for a cancer survivor can be just the same as anyone else’s. There is no need to deny oneself the pleasure of an occasional ice-cream (or burger).