Grocery shopping for cancer prevention

grocery shopping for cancer preventionApril is National Cancer Control Month and its goal is to boost awareness of cancer, its care and to help more people win the battle against cancer. While it is impossible to completely eliminate the risk of cancer, you can take action to reduce your cancer risk through various lifestyle changes. One key area in your control is making healthy changes to your diet. Instead of just listing these healthy habits, follow the tips below to make your next grocery shopping trip a cancer-fighting experience.

Stick to the list: The very best thing you can do for yourself is to be prepared. Continue reading

Farmer markets: pleasures from the farm

fruitFarmer markets makes it easy to eat well in the summertime. Fruits and vegetables–key to a healthy diet that may help to prevent cancer–are at their most delicious peaks. And grocery shopping feels more like an adventure than a chore.

During the past few years, farmers’ markets have multiplied across the state of Michigan. Visit our online calendar to what’s in season now and throughout the summer. Check out the Michigan Farmers Market Map, too, to find a location near you.

If you are near the University of Michigan campus, locally grown fresh produce is available in three campus locations at The Produce Cart. Here is a 2013 schedule with maps; Towsley Triangle at University Hospital is one of the locations. Continue reading

Vitamin Supplementation and Cancer Prevention

Emily Mackler, Pharm.D, BCOP, is a clinical pharmacist at the U-M Comprehensive Cancer Center

There is evidence that suggests vitamins play an important role in the origin or causes of cancer.  Much data exists regarding the use of vitamin supplements to prevent cancer.  Despite the amount of studies that have been published in this area, conclusive evidence is limited and many trials have not been able to show an effect on cancer incidence or mortality.

A recently released Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) article is one of the exceptions.  This study assessed the long-term effects of multivitamin use in men and saw an 8% decrease in total cancer occurrence.  The data came from the Physicians’ Health Study II, which included over 14,000 United States male physicians aged 50 or older and studied the effects of multivitamin supplementation from 1997 to 2011.  Although the outcome of this study is positive, it leaves some questions unanswered.  Are the same effects seen in women?  Does this effect add to other established preventative measures such as smoking cessation, exercise, etc.?  Results are interesting and have shed some light in an area of research that hasn’t yielded many positive outcomes in the past.

Here is a brief summary of other vitamins studied in cancer prevention:

Calcium and Vitamin D

  • Data supports a reduction in the incidence of polyps with calcium supplementation and therefore may be useful in colorectal cancer prevention.
  • Observational studies support an association between higher calcium consumption and reduced breast cancer risk.
  • There are conflicting results regarding cancer prevention and Vitamin D supplementation to date.

Folic Acid

  • Supplementation with folic acid has not shown to reduce risk in colorectal cancer or prostate cancer.
  • Observational studies have linked higher folic acid intake with a higher risk of prostate and breast cancer.


  • A review by Cochrane Database of 49 prospective observational studies and 6 randomized controlled studies showing no reliable conclusions. In addition, the results of the Nutritional Prevention of Cancer Trial (NPCT) and SELECT trials raise concerns regarding supplementation.

Vitamin C and E

  • No effect was uncovered in a previously published report from the Physicians’ Health Study II.
  • Studied in the Women’s Antioxidant Cardiovascular Study and no benefit in cancer prevention seen.


  1. Gaziano J, Sesso HD, Christen WG, et al. Multivitamins in the Prevention of Cancer in Men: The Physicians’ Health Study II Randomized Controlled Trial. JAMA. 2012;():1-10. doi:10.1001/jama.2012.14641.
  2. Martinez ME, et al. Dietary Supplements and Cancer Prevention: Balancing Potential Benefits Against Proven Harms.  J Natl Cancer Inst. 2012;104(10):732-9.
  3. Vastag B.  Nutrients for Prevention: Negative Trials Send Researchers Back to Drawing Board.  J Natl Cancer Inst 2009;101(7):446-451.
  4. Dennert G, et al.  Selenium in preventing cancer.  Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2011;(5):CD005195

What’s really in the juice box? 5 Tips for picking healthy drinks for kids

This summer has been full of steamy hot days, leaving many kids craving hydration. What seems tasty and refreshing, however, isn’t always the best choice. Ditch the unnecessary sugar and offer the fluids your family really needs.

Here are five ways to help pick healthy beverages for your child:

Continue reading

Tips to Help Curb Nausea

Nausea and vomiting are probably among the most feared side effects to cancer patients and their families — and with good reason. If left uncontrolled, nausea and vomiting can significantly hinder how a person can eat or drink, which can lead to dehydration, an inability to fuel the fight against cancer, loss of important nutrients and inability to continue treatment as prescribed.  But there is good news. Advances in anti-nausea medications and non-medication related treatments have made controlling nausea and vomiting more successful.

If you are experiencing nausea or vomiting, let your oncologist know as he or she can best assess which anti-nausea medication might be the most helpful.  Know that there are many different anti-nausea medications and if one is not working for you, there likely is another one that may be more beneficial.

In addition to medications, you have several additional options that have shown good results. These can be used in combination with anti-nausea medications and may help the drugs work better.

Adjusting the foods that you eat as well as how and when you eat them may be one of the easiest ways to help manage nausea and vomiting.

  • Eat small, frequent meals about every 2-4 hours. Do not let your stomach get empty as this can make nausea worse.
  • Drink plenty of liquids, but drink slowly and in small amounts continuously throughout the day.
  • Try ginger-flavored teas, beverages or even chewing on fresh ginger root. Ginger contains a food compound that can calm queasiness.
  • Do not recline or lie down immediately after eating. Sitting up promotes digestion.
  • Find out your triggers and try to avoid them. Potential triggers: hot, stuffy rooms or cooking odors.
  • Cool and room temperature foods may be better tolerated.
  • Do not take medication on an empty stomach unless told to do so by your doctor or pharmacist.
  • Avoid foods that are greasy, fried or spicy such as sausage, bacon, full-fat milkshakes, doughnuts, pastries, potato chips and foods with chili powder, pepper or hot sauce.
  • Foods to include are saltines, toast, cold cereal, plain noodles, white rice, pretzels, potatoes without the skin, baked or broiled meats, low fat dairy products, eggs, decaffeinated beverages, sherbet, popsicles and sports drinks.

Other anti-nausea methods have been studied and shown to have good results:

  • Acupuncture and acupressure
    These methods may work by causing physical responses in nerve cells, the pituitary gland and parts of the brain
  • Behavior therapy
  • Systematic desensitization
  • Relaxation methods such as guided imagery and hypnosis
    These methods can help with nausea caused by anxiety or fatigue

More information on nutrition and cancer can be found on the Cancer Center’s website.  Please share your suggestions or if you have found other solutions that help.


Nutrition and Sarcoma: Overcoming Roadblocks During Treatment

Sarcoma is a term used to describe a whole family of cancers that arise in the body’s connective tissues, which include fat, muscle, blood vessels, deep skin tissues, nerves, bones and cartilage. Drug-related side effects for sarcoma often include nausea, mouth sores and lack of appetite that hinder one’s ability to consume adequate food and/or beverages.

Proper nutrition can help you tolerate treatments better, minimize complications and maintain a better quality of life.  Even if you are overweight, weight loss is not usually recommended during treatment. It boils down to being able to consume enough calories, protein and fluid to maintain your usual weight and muscle strength.

How can one continue to eat and drink sufficiently when appetite is poor or it is painful? Continue reading