Cancer is the leading cause of death around the globe, and the American Cancer Society says approximately 1 in 3 Americans will get the disease during their lifetime. Caused by mutations in the DNA that tells cells how to grow and divide, cancer occurs by random chance, genetic predisposition or exposure to cancer-causing substances called carcinogens.
The Cancer Connection
Studies show hereditary components, such as the BRCA 1 and 2 mutations that cause ovarian cancer, are factors in around 30 percent of all tumors while environmental factors and chance account for the rest. Some hazards are common knowledge, but others are difficult to prove. Research also shows a connection between a diet of fried foods and red or processed meat and colorectal, pancreatic and prostate cancer, but there is good news. Eating a healthy diet can help in prevention and recovery from cancer.
Why Diet Matters
Cancer and cancer treatments, especially surgery, radiation and chemotherapy, cause a wide range of side effects that vary depending on the diagnosis, type of treatment, and general health of the patient. Common complaints include fatigue, pain, nausea, loss of appetite, weight loss, and anxiety. Changes in smell and taste or digestive problems may make it hard to eat a balanced diet, and cognitive issues make it easier to get confused about medications and daily routines. It’s also normal to feel anxious or have trouble sleeping at night, and the body needs extra energy to heal itself, causing fatigue.
With lack of appetite, digestive problems and anxiety, it’s no wonder cancer patients lose their appetite. Dietitians recommend three meals and three snacks every day at pre-planned times. High-calorie choices like smoothies and protein supplements work well. Food should appeal to the senses, and dining should be pleasant. When patients don’t feel like eating, products like Ensure are a good substitute.
A little help from friends or delivery from an online grocer who delivers makes eating easier during recovery, and organizations like Meals on Wheels deliver meals straight to the front door. Although prepared frozen meals are an option, freezing small portion of home-cooked favorites for later use is also a good idea. Sweets are OK in moderation, and choices like carrot cake and zucchini bread are even better because they also contain nutrients.
University of California in San Francisco Health, an internet publication, makes three recommendations:
- Eating a variety of low-fat foods
- Limiting sugar, salt, alcohol and caffeine
- Staying hydrated
CBD Oil and Cancer
(CBD), an active ingredient in cannabis, or marijuana, is becoming popular for use as an alternative treatment in natural medicine, and some people say it helps cancer patients. Although it is an ingredient in medical marijuana, it comes directly from the hemp plant, not the marijuana plant, and does not cause a high. The World Health Organization says there is no evidence that it causes health problems associated with pure cannabis.
An article from Harvard Publishing says CBD oil may help with anxiety and insomnia, and Medical News Today reports that it may be helpful for stimulating the appetite, relieving pain from nerve damage or inflammation, and treating nausea. While the National Cancer Institute says results of studies to show whether CBD oil can prevent cancer are not conclusive, a 2016 study says cannabinoids may fight the disease by inhibiting the growth of some tumor cells.
Some of the more aggressive cancers take more than a general prescribed pain killer for patients to get through the day-to-day side effects of intensive cancer treatment. For example, individuals diagnosed with the malignant cancer known as mesothelioma experience a dizzying amount of medical procedures to combat the disease and have found comfort in implementing complimentary CBD or medical marijuana into their daily routine to subdue the pains and illnesses brought on by their treatments.
There is still a lot to learn about the side effects of cancer, traditional treatments, and complementary therapies like CBD oil. Although it shows promise, patients should let their health care providers know if they are using CBD oil to avoid adverse effects from combining it with other medicines or treatments. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has only approved one related medication, a prescription drug used to treat seizures. Other CBD products should not have health-related claims on the label.