This post is from the My Ovacome forum and was originally posted 9 October 2020

Often, people diagnosed with cancer make changes to their diet because they want to support their health. 

Information on cancer and diet can be very confusing and contradictory. The following websites are reliable sources of information. You can also ask your medical team to refer you to an oncology dietitian for specialist advice.

Macmillan Cancer Support information 

Cancer Research UK information 

Cancer Research UK information on food controversies

The World Cancer Research Fund information 

Oncology nutrition (USA) 

The media sometimes report that certain foods are ‘cancer-fighting’ or increase the risk of particular cancers. So far, research hasn’t established a conclusive link between any particular food or diet and the risk of ovarian cancer (Ovarian cancer | World Cancer Research Fund International). The general advice for people diagnosed with cancer is to follow a healthy, balanced diet including vegetables, starchy foods, some dairy or dairy alternatives and healthy proteins such as lean meat, fish or eggs. If you would like individual advice about any dietary changes that could be helpful for you, you can ask your team. If necessary, you may be referred to a dietitian for specialist advice.

No conclusive evidence has been found that any dietary regime helps to shrink or stabilise cancer.

There is known to be a link between consumption of red and processed meats and the risk of bowel cancer (Diet | Reduce your risk | Bowel Cancer UK). There have also been media reports in the past suggesting that dairy products can increase the risk of cancer, but so far the evidence does not support this (Can milk and dairy products cause cancer? | Cancer Research UK).

Two specialist oncology dieticians gave a talk about diet and cancer at our 2018 Health and Wellbeing Day. You can download their presentation slides here. You can also find the NHS Eatwell Guide at The Eatwell Guide - NHS (www.nhs.uk).

Each person is different, and your dietary needs may also change as you go through and finish your treatment and after treatment ends.

For example, during chemotherapy you may eat differently if you have side effects such as nausea, mouth ulcers or taste changes. We wrote about this in our blog posts on managing the effects of chemotherapy:

Managing the effects of chemotherapy: fatigue

Managing the effects of chemotherapy: mouth care

It’s important to take in enough calories during chemotherapy to maintain your energy levels. If there are some foods that are easier for you to eat your team may advise you to eat enough of what you can enjoy or tolerate rather than trying to eat foods that you feel you ‘should’ have.

If your blood tests show any deficiency, such as iron, you may be given supplements or advised to eat specific foods. If you have a stoma, it’s likely that certain foods will affect how it functions and you will find that you need to adapt your diet. Your stoma nurse will be able to give you advice about this. You can view our information on stomas here.

If you have experienced or are at risk of a blocked bowel, you may be advised to eat less fibre.  This is known as a fibre-restricted diet or a low residue diet. You can find more information about diet for a blocked bowel here.

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Vegetarian, vegan and soy     Sugar and carbohydrates

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Intermittent fasting     Symptom management food and drink

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If you have any questions or need any further information please contact our support service team on 0800 008 7054 or email [email protected]

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Disclaimer: You should consult your medical team for individual specialist advice. Links to commercial and third-party websites are for general interest. Ovacome does not endorse any commercial product or accept any liability for loss or damage resulting from this information or that contained within third-party websites.

Review date: October 2022