A dietary guide for cancer patients

It is a well researched fact that an unhealthy diet may contribute to developing cancer in the body. High fat diets have been associated with cancer of the uterus, the breasts, the prostate gland, and the colon. Regular intake of excessive calories is also associated with cancer of the gallbladder and the endometrium.

One of the first indications of cancer is unexplained weight loss. The tumour cells use the nutrients taken by the host for their own metabolism and development. This often results in loss of muscle tissue, and hypoalbuminaemia with anaemia. Due to decreased digestive secretions, cancer patients become satiated earlier than normal, thus contributing to further weight-loss.

Cancer treatments are designed to kill the cancerous cells, but this can also damage healthy cells, which can cause problems like loss of appetite, change in sense of taste and smell, constipation, diarrhoea (which may be caused by radiation therapy), bloating, cramps, dry mouth (which may be the result of chemotherapy and radiation therapy that often lead to dryness of the mouth), and lactose intolerance.

Other common side-effects are nausea, sore mouth, sore throat, having trouble in swallowing, weight gain, or weight loss.

Despite their need for a nutritious diet, anorexia is a major problem for cancer patient. It is particularly difficult to combat because patients tend to develop strong food aversions due to the effects of chemotherapy.