A new study published by the Journal of Oncology confirms that weight gain and obesity have become commonplace among cancer survivors in the US with the problem being most prevalent in colorectal and breast cancer survivors.
Scientists correlated and studied data garnered from over 500,000 adults from 1997 to 2014. Of individuals with no history of cancer, 21% of those individuals were considered to be obese in 1997 with that number jumping to 29% in 2014. Of individuals who were survivors of cancer, the rates of obesity were 22% in 1997 rising to 32% in 2014.
The largest overall increases in obesity were found in survivors of colorectal cancer and breast cancer survivors having the second highest rates of obesity. Overall increases were particularly high in African-Americans who were survivors of colorectal, breast, and prostate cancer.
In women with colorectal cancer, young African-American women survivors of colorectal cancer who had been diagnosed in the last two to nine years had the highest rates of obesity.
In men with colorectal cancer, older African-American men who had survived colorectal cancer having been diagnosed 10 or more years before had the highest rates of obesity.
When it comes to breast cancer, obesity rates were highest for young, white women who had been diagnosed within the year.
In prostate cancer, the incidents of obesity were highest in young, white men who had been diagnosed in the previous two to nine years.
The study suggests that there is a great difficulty for survivors of cancer when it comes to weight gain to the point where intercession must be made for the benefit of the patient and excessive weight addressed with diet, exercise, and other more invasive methods.
How to eat healthy
Being able to eat again after chemotherapy and not worry about nausea or being able to eat foods patients had lost their taste for is wonderful, but excess can be harmful. Research has suggested that being able to avoid weight gain after surviving cancer is beneficial to your cancer not reoccurring.
So what does a healthy diet look like? Why not ask a dietician? A genuine lifestyle change can be the best prevention you could ever ask for. Think of it this way. If you meet with a personal trainer to develop a workout that is right for you, your needs, and your body, why wouldn’t you do the same for your diet?
By meeting with a dietitian, you can develop a plan based on
• The right things to eat and drink
• What you like to eat and drink
• Any moral or religious imperative upon your diet
We liked this site quite a bit: Cancer Dietitian. Explore it for yourself and see if anything you read there speaks to you, but it is a touchstone.
Now, about that new diet. First, how about some new recipes? Many of you grew up with this book in the kitchen. For those that did not, it is the bible of cooking: The Joy of Cooking. Visit this site and search for new recipes for chicken, turkey, and fish, or buy a copy for yourself as well. It is very handy, and there are used copies on Amazon for well under $1.00.
Red Meat: Multiple pieces of research have been done to link colorectal cancer and other cancers to eating red meat, which includes dark meat, chicken, beef, pork, lamb, and wild game. Additionally, research has been done on burned or charred meat contributing to cancer and processed meats such as sausage, lunch meats, bacon, hot dogs, and beef jerky do not lend themselves to a healthy diet. Any intake of red meat needs to be measured and/or reconsidered in a diet for a cancer patient/survivor.
White meat — including the breast of the chicken or turkey and fish are much better options.
Fruit & Vegetables: Five or more (servings) a day, which can include juice. Loaded with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and more, they can be useful in strengthening the immune system, fighting infection, regulating bowel movements, and all sorts of good stuff.
Only Unsaturated Fat: No junk food… no deep-fried food… no saturated fats — only unsaturated fats. Olive oil is king in this department, as is avocado oil.
Soy: Tofu can be a drag, so unless you really like it, just forget about it.
Trader Joe’s has all kinds of soy-based meats and entrees that are really very good. In the cold case next to the fresh vegetables Tofurky Sausages, Chicken-Less and Meat-Less Strips, Chorizo (great with eggs), and then in the frozen foods there are too many options to list.
Alcohol: None at all or one serving max a day. Alcohol has been linked in studies to causing cancer and is fraught with other issues. If you can avoid it for the most part, or entirely, good on you.
That is a jumping-off point. We encourage you to explore all our options, and “season to taste.” If you would like to contribute to our FOOD section, we would love that. Please contact us.