Cancer study aims to show how diet can help post-op patients

Researchers are learning more about diet’s link to cancer including how a change in what patients eat may effect their long-term prognosis.

Currently, UC Davis researchers are taking part in a nationwide clinical trial to determine what effects intensive diet and lifestyle changes may have on post-op cancer patients.

“It’s pretty exciting,” said Dr. Edwin Alvarez, a gynecological cancer specialist at UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center in Sacramento. “Whole lifestyle changes including diet may have something to do with patient recovery. We’re participating in a clinical trial right now addressing this question. If they overhaul their diet, do they do better? Right now, we don’t know the answer.”

Changing diet to fight cancer also is the premise of cancer survivor Pamela Braun’s new cookbook, “The Ultimate Anti-Cancer Cookbook” (Vireo, $19.95). A former chef and restaurateur, Braun used her own experience with food and disease coupled with cancer research to come up with recipes for other patients. She also recommends her healthy-eating approach as a way to keep cancer at bay.

“I think it’s a great book,” Alvarez said. “Most oncologists have a poor education in regards to nutrition. Cancer doctors aren’t strong on diet (information); they’re focused on cancer.

“But research is certainly indicating that good diet has a strong influence on (reducing) cancer risk,” he added. “That’s part of the message (in Braun’s book) that I can underline.”

Diet and exercise are part of the recovery process for every patient, Alvarez noted. “It’s easy enough to say, ‘Eat better.’ But the patient then asks, ‘How?’ That can be tough to really address while also treating the cancer adequately.”

That’s where a book such as Braun’s cookbook comes in handy. Her book includes many suggestions of how to eat better and healthier including 225 recipes. For more about Braun and her book, click here.

“It’s a really timely book,” Alvarez said. “It’s a really nice way to get the message out.”