nutrition program banner

Frequently Asked Questions

Does sugar feed cancer?

Our body needs glucose, or simple sugar, for energy. Sugar feeds every cell in our body and even if every bit of sugar was eliminated from the diet, the body would make sugar from other sources such as protein and fat.

Sugar itself is not bad. However, too much sugar, without enough protein, fat, and fiber to balance it out, can cause our bodies to make too much insulin. Research suggests that higher levels of insulin overtime may influence cancer cell growth and increase the risk of other chronic diseases. To help prevent this, eat sugar in moderation, maintain a healthy weight, and get plenty of exercise. Talk with your doctor about how much exercise is right for you.  

Should I buy organic foods to avoid pesticides?

Currently, there is no scientific evidence that foods containing small amounts of residues or pesticides increase cancer risk. If you are concerned about pesticides, avoiding fruits and vegetables may do more harm than good.

It is always best to wash produce well before eating it. The important thing is that you eat a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, whether they are organic or conventionally grown. The benefits of eating more fruits and vegetables strongly outweigh any potential risks from pesticides.

Do soy and soy products increase or decrease breast cancer risk?

Experts agree that breast cancer survivors can safely eat soy foods. While the evidence is not strong enough to recommend all women with a history of breast cancer to eat more soy, eating soy foods does appear to be safe and possibly helpful. Choose healthy, whole soy foods like tofu, tempeh, soymilk, and edamame.

pearsSoy foods are a healthy option, while soy supplements may not be. If you require extra calories during cancer treatment from a liquid nutritional supplement, the soy protein in this type of product is not a problem. However, soy pills and isoflavone-enriched powders should be avoided. The occasional soy protein bar or snack food is fine, but as with all foods, the less processed the better.

Does a ketogenic diet help with cancer?

Eliminating nearly all carbohydrate intake using a ketogenic diet is being studied as a possible way to manage and treat brain tumors and advanced breast and prostate cancer. However, we don’t know if this type of diet is the best choice for most people with cancer.

The ketogenic diet is very high in fat, and severely limits carbohydrate and protein consumption. This can make it difficult for individuals to eat an adequate amount of nutrition to prevent unintentional weight loss. In addition, this high fat diet conflicts with other studies that have shown eating a balanced diet may improve survival after diagnosis with some types of cancer. Until more research is available, you should not try this type of diet without first discussing it with your doctor and dietitian.

Does juicing help with cancer?

Juicing is a great way to add more servings of vegetables and fruits to an already healthy diet. Juicing should not be used to meet basic nutrition needs as it significantly reduces protein, fat, and fiber content. Your first five servings of fruits and vegetables each day should come from whole foods, not juice. So, if you're not meeting this five-a-day goal already, do this first. If you currently eat 5 or more servings of colorful fruits and vegetables each day, juicing to boost intake of these foods can be a healthy option.

Does an alkaline diet help cancer?

The alkaline diet claims that eating too much of certain foods – like animal proteins, beans, nuts, grains, sugar, and processed foods – makes your body more acidic. Advocates of the alkaline diet claim that it can cure or prevent cancer.

The body fights hard to keep pH balance and makes it nearly impossible to maintain a high-alkaline pH for a prolonged period of time. Our digestive system controls the acidity or alkalinity of the foods we eat. Currently, there is no scientific evidence establishing the benefit of an alkaline diet for the prevention or cure of cancer. 

The alkaline diet limits certain food groups that contain essential nutrients such as calcium, iron, and zinc. While eating a diet that is high in fruits and vegetables remains ideal, eating a diet that contains a wide variety of healthy foods like whole grains, lean meats, beans, nuts and seeds is the best way to eat well before, during, and after cancer treatment. 

Can I take nutritional supplements or homeopathic remedies?

Many supplements can interfere with cancer medications and treatments. Always check with your health care provider or registered dietitians before taking nutritional supplements, antioxidants, or homeopathic products.