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Diet During Chemotherapy For Breast Cancer

A Registered Dietitian Is An Important Part Of The Healthcare Team

What Is the Best Diet and Lifestyle During Breast Cancer?

A registered dietitian is a part of the team of health professionals that help with cancer treatment and recovery. A dietitian will work with patients, their families, and the rest of the medical team to manage the patients diet during and after cancer treatment.

Research has shown that including a registered dietitian in a patient’s cancer care can help the patient live longer.

Whats The Best Diet For Weight Loss

Research shows that limiting the number of calories you eat is the best way to lose weight and keep it off. To lose weight or stay at a healthy weight, you may need to make lifestyle changes, and dieting alone may not work. Cutting out whole food groups, such as fats or carbohydrates, also isnt likely to work and is hard to keep doing for long periods of time.

If you exercise often, you can increase your lean muscle tissue. This will increase the rate at which your body burns calories. Exercise regularly to keep or increase your lean muscle mass and decrease your fat mass.

From The Acs Bookstore

The second edition of What to Eat During Cancer Treatment contains more than 130 recipes. The book provides practical tips and suggestions to help patients and their caregivers anticipateand overcomethe major challenges of eating well during treatment. Written by Jeanne Besser, an award-winning cookbook author Barbara Grant, a board-certified specialist in oncology nutrition and experts in nutrition and cancer care from the American Cancer Society.

For more information or to place an order, visit the ACS Bookstore.

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Lean Protein And Soy Too

For good protein sources, increase your intake of poultry, fish and legumes like beans and lentils. Minimize your intake of cured, pickled and smoked meats.

Regular intake of processed meats is associated with an increased risk for certain types of cancer. Processed meats are also high in sodium, which can elevate blood pressure in the short term as well.

Soy in moderate amounts, which means one to two servings per day of whole soy foods also can be included.

Chemotherapy And Hormone Therapy

Diet during breast cancer chemotherapy

Chemotherapy and hormone therapy affect nutrition in different ways.

Chemotherapy affects cells all through the body. Chemotherapy uses drugs to stop the growth of cancer cells, either by killing the cells or by stopping them from dividing. Healthy cells that normally grow and divide quickly may also be killed. These include cells in the mouth and digestive tract.

Hormone therapy adds, blocks, or removes hormones. It may be used to slow or stop the growth of certain cancers. Some types of hormone therapy may cause weight gain.

Chemotherapy and hormone therapy cause different nutrition problems.

Side effects from chemotherapy may cause problems with eating and digestion. When more than one chemotherapy drug is given, each drug may cause different side effects or when drugs cause the same side effect, the side effect may be more severe.

The following side effects are common:

  • Sores in the mouth or throat.
  • Changes in the way food tastes.
  • Trouble swallowing.

Patients who receive hormone therapy may need changes in their diet to prevent weight gain.

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How Can I Manage Fatigue During Breast Cancer Treatment

A dietitian can work with you to determine the source of your fatigue. Treatment-related anemia may cause fatigue. We would recommend eating iron-rich foods such as lean red meat , legumes and spinach.

Although it may seem counterintuitive, staying active can help fight fatigue. Exercise increases oxygen levels in the blood and boosts endorphins in the brain, which can make you feel more energized.

Apple Juice May Increase Risk Of Dying And Veggies Lower Risk

The first study, published in Cancer Research, focused on fruit juices along with fruit and vegetable intake.

The paper found that women who ate the greatest amounts of fruits and vegetables after their breast cancer diagnosis had an overall lower risk of dying during the course of the study compared to those who ate the least amounts. When Farvid and her colleagues teased this finding apart, it was the overall vegetable intake that appeared to drive the survival link with the greatest affect pointing to cruciferous and green leafy vegetables. Cruciferous vegetables include broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and Brussels sprouts.

Fruit intake by itself did not show a link with mortality.

Women who ate, on average, almost a full serving of cruciferous vegetables daily had a 13 percent lower risk of dying from any cause during the course of the study, compared to those who ate almost none of these vegetables. And women who ate, on average, almost two servings of leafy greens daily had a 20 percent lower risk of dying, compared to those who ate close to none. This link was found after taking into account womens physical activity, smoking, weight change and other risk factors.

There was no link between mortality and orange juice.

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How Can A Registered Dietitian Help Me During Breast Cancer Treatment

Registered dietitians guide patients with diet recommendations so they can maintain their health during cancer treatment and beyond.

Breast cancer treatment can cause fatigue. Proper nutrition can provide patients with strength and energy. Some treatments, like chemotherapy, may cause nausea or poor appetite, and a registered dietitian can provide nutrition tips to help patients cope. Certain foods may also aid in healing.

We also help patients with a planned breast surgery prepare for it with diet and exercise tips so they feel well before surgery, which will aid in their healing after surgery.

At Nuvance Health, registered dietitians who specialize in oncology nutrition are available for our patients from diagnosis through survivorship. Patients can connect with us any time before, during or after treatment.

What About Supplements Are There Any That Should Be Avoided During Chemo

Is There a Diet I Should be on During Chemotherapy?

In general, you should limit the use of most dietary supplements during chemotherapy to minimize the risk of the nutrients interacting with the chemotherapy medicine. If you are interested in taking supplements during chemotherapy treatment, talk to your oncologist BEFORE you take anything.

You also should avoid any supplement that contains highly concentrated forms of a food or beverage during breast cancer chemotherapy.

Recommended Reading: Can You Tell If You Have Breast Cancer

Tips For A Healthy Diet

Most health practitioners recommend a balanced diet which includes:

  • plenty of vegetables, fruit and legumes. Aim for five serves of vegetables and two serves of fruit each day.
  • cereals, preferably wholegrain, including bread, rice, pasta and noodles.
  • Some lean meat, fish, and poultry try to eat fish 23 times a week, and limit your intake of red meat to 500g a week.
  • fat reduced dairy foods including milk, yoghurt, and cheese try to consume around three servings of calcium-rich food daily.
  • plenty of water try to drink around eight 250ml glasses daily .

It is also recommended that you cut back on:

  • foods high in saturated fat and salt, such as fatty meats, take-away food, salty snacks, and cakes.
  • food and drink high in sugar like biscuits, fruit juice, and soft drink.
  • alcohol There is convincing evidence that alcohol consumption is associated with an increased risk of developing breast cancer, however it is not clear whether alcohol increases the risk of breast cancer recurring . Cancer Australia recommends avoiding alcohol consumption or limiting daily alcohol intake to reduce cancer risk. If you do drink alcohol, women are recommended to limit their alcohol intake to no more than one standard drink each day to reduce cancer risk for men, the recommendation is no more than two standard drinks a day.

Nutrition during treatment

Avoid drastic diet changes

Managing advice from others

Getting Calories And Protein

During your treatment, your clinical dietitian nutritionist may recommend certain foods to help you get more calories, get more protein, or eat more comfortably. Some of these foods may seem like less healthy choices. Its important to remember that you will only be eating this way for a short while. Once your side effects go away and your appetite goes back to normal, you can stop eating foods you feel are unhealthy. Your clinical dietitian nutritionist can help you find an eating plan that works best for you.

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Shopping And Cooking During Treatment

Simple tasks like shopping and cooking can seem exhausting during your treatment and as you recover. Try to accept any offers of help, even if youre used to coping on your own. You can also take advantage of online shopping or ask local shops if they have a telephone ordering and delivery service.

Its important to have fresh food in your diet, but if you can’t shop regularly, frozen and tinned fruit and vegetables are full of nutrients and can be eaten every day. Choose tinned fruit in juice rather than syrup and tinned vegetables that have less salt.

Find out more about coping with fatigue during and after treatment.

Regular Diet Sample Menus

20 Healthy Diet Tips for Chemotherapy

Has information on diet and cancer prevention research and education as well as recipes.

Cook For Your LifeMany recipe ideas for patients with cancer. Recipes can be filtered by diet type or treatment side effect.

FDA Center for Food Safety and Applied NutritionHas helpful information on food safety.

MSK Integrative Medicine Integrative Medicine Service offers many services to complement traditional medical care, including music therapy, mind/body therapies, dance and movement therapy, yoga, and touch therapy. To schedule an appointment for these services, call .

The Integrative Medicine Service also provides counseling on nutrition and dietary supplements. You can find more information about herbal and other dietary supplements at

You can also schedule a consultation with a healthcare provider in the Integrative Medicine Service. They will work with you to come up with a plan for creating a healthy lifestyle and managing side effects. To make an appointment, call .

MSK Nutrition WebsiteUse our diet plans and recipes to help with healthy eating habits during and after cancer treatment

National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements

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Alcohol In Moderation If At All

Drinking alcohol is a known risk factor for breast cancer. A large, observational study of 105,986 women suggested that drinking three glasses of wine or more per week throughout life increases a womans risk of breast cancer by a small but significant percentage.

The study saw a 15% increased risk of breast cancer when women drank an average of three to six drinks per week, compared to women who did not drink. Try to avoid intake of alcoholic beverages when possible.

Some studies tout possible benefits for heart health from moderate intake of red wine, but regardless of the type of alcohol, daily alcohol intake is associated with increased risk for certain cancers, including breast cancer, notes Taylor.

What To Eat During Chemotherapy

Once treatment starts, a persons body will need healthy foods to function at its best. It is essential to get enough calories and proteins during this time.

Foods that a person does not typically enjoy may taste better during treatment, so people are encouraged to try new foods.

A person should eat foods containing health-promoting properties, brightly colored fruits and vegetables, and high protein foods. They should limit sugary and highly processed food.

Protein-rich snacks such as Greek yogurt, nuts and seeds, chicken salad and crackers, or hard-boiled eggs may help maintain strength and energy.

The side effects a person experiences during chemotherapy may affect their eating. For example, a person with a sore mouth may find it uncomfortable to eat acidic fruits, or a person who experiences diarrhea may wish to avoid very high fiber foods.

Following chemotherapy, it is important to:

  • Check with the cancer care team to find out about food restrictions.
  • Ask a dietitian to help create a balanced, nutritious eating plan.
  • Eat a variety of colorful vegetables and fruits daily, such as dark green and yellow vegetables, and citrus fruits.
  • Eat high fiber foods such as fruits, vegetables, beans, and whole grains.
  • Limit intake of highly refined carbohydrates and added sugar.
  • Incorporate protein-rich foods at every meal and snack.
  • Avoid or limit alcohol.

Chemotherapy can cause a number of eating problems as common side effects of the treatment. These may include:

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Is There Any Amount Of Alcohol That Is Safe To Drink During Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy can be taxing on the liver. Alcohol is processed by the liver. For this reason, some oncologists recommend completely avoiding alcohol during treatment.

If you have a special occasion, party, or event and want to enjoy a glass of wine, a beer, or a cocktail, check with your oncologist to make sure itâs OK.

What Should I Know About Over

Best Diet When Going Through Chemotherapy for Breast Cancer

Let your medical oncologist know about any over-the-counter medications or supplements you are taking to determine if you should continue taking them. Certain OTC medications or supplements may have known interactions with cancer treatments.

The bottom line: Nutrition plays an important role in healing, health and quality of life during breast cancer treatment. Nuvance Health registered dietitians develop individualized nutrition plans for our patients to address their unique needs and work as part of a team that provides expert breast cancer treatment.

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The Goal Of Nutrition Therapy For Patients Who Have Advanced Cancer Depends On The Overall Plan Of Care

The goal of nutrition therapy in patients with advanced cancer is to give patients the best possible quality of life and control symptoms that cause distress.

Patients with advanced cancer may be treated with anticancer therapy and palliative care, palliative care alone, or may be in hospice care. Nutrition goals will be different for each patient. Some types of treatment may be stopped if they are not helping the patient.

As the focus of care goes from cancer treatment to hospice or end-of-life care, nutrition goals may become less aggressive, and a change to care meant to keep the patient as comfortable as possible.See the Nutrition Needs at End of Life section for more information on nutrition at the end of life.

Nutrition In Cancer Care Patient Version

On This Page
  • Good nutrition is important for cancer patients.
  • Healthy eating habits are important during and after cancer treatment.
  • A registered dietitian is an important part of the healthcare team.
  • Cancer and cancer treatments may cause side effects that affect nutrition.
  • Cancer and cancer treatments may cause malnutrition.
  • Anorexia and cachexia are common causes of malnutrition in cancer patients.

Recommended Reading: What To Say To Someone With Breast Cancer

Compliance With The Intervention

The mean number of counseling calls made in the telephone arm was 17.4, range 13-21, in the thirteen women who completed 12 months on study. This is close to the planned 19 calls. Extra calls were made when requested by a subject, and at other times a call was skipped due to scheduling issues with holidays, vacations, and personal matters that subjects needed to attend to. Self-monitoring logs of diet and exercise were turned in by subjects at a rate that was 70% of that requested, with only two women completing logs < 50% of the time on the requested occasions.

Using the NCI fruit and vegetable screener, fruit and vegetable servings/day were higher than with the recalls . In the telephone arm, intakes at 12 months were 9.8 by screener vs. 7.3 servings/day by recalls . Recent literature confirms that the screener does over-estimate intakes . Using the NCI fat screener, mean fat intake at baseline for all study subjects was 32.6% of energy, which is similar to that with recalls of 32.1%, but change over time in the telephone arm by screener was smaller. In the telephone arm, fat intakes at 12 months were 31% by screener vs. 28% by recalls.

Dehydration Is Another Issue During Chemotherapy Besides Drinking Plenty Of Water Are There Particular Foods That Can Help

What to eat to prepare for chemo, radiation, surgery and stem cell ...

Staying well hydrated is an important part of chemotherapy. Your kidneys need plenty of fluid to process and excrete the chemotherapy medicines. If you arenât urinating regularly or your urine is a dark color, call your doctor right away.

In addition to drinking plenty of fluids, eat water-rich vegetables and fruit, such as carrots, cucumbers, celery, berries, apples, plums, pears, peaches, nectarines, and oranges.

Sip soups and broth, and enjoy smoothies made with milk or non-dairy options.

Along with these foods, minimize the risk of dehydration with the following tips:

  • Add cucumber slices to water for a fresh taste.

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Planning Your Cancer Treatment Diet

Registered dietitians have specialized training in the nutritional needs of people with specific diseases. Your dietitian can help you plan meals that give you the right number of calories and nutrients.

Its also important to build an eating plan thats practical for you, says Rajagopal. If youre busy in the evenings and dont have the time or energy to cook, try to select healthy takeout options. If youre on a budget, adding inexpensive, nutritious foods like beans or frozen fruit or vegetables to simple meals can go a long way.

Be Careful When You Eat Out

When you dine out, stay away from:

  • Raw fruits and vegetables
  • Salad bars, buffets, sidewalk vendors, potlucks, and delis

Ask if all fruit juices are pasteurized.

Use only salad dressings, sauces, and salsas from single-serving packages. Eat out at times when restaurants are less crowded. Always ask for your food to be prepared fresh, even at fast food restaurants.

Freifeld AG, Kaul DR. Infection in the patient with cancer. In: Niederhuber JE, Armitage JO, Kastan MB, Doroshow JH, Tepper JE, eds. Abeloffs Clinical Oncology. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier 2020:chap 34.

National Cancer Institute website. Nutrition in cancer care – health professional version. . Updated March 23, 2022. Accessed July 1, 2022.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services website. Safe Minimum Cooking Temperatures Charts.

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