Noticias HC

Oncology. #Diet and Cancer (III)

Dieta y Tratamiento del Cáncer


Beliefs about beneficial or curative effects of some foods on cancer.


Today we are speaking about the third area in which there are many prevalent myths, which is that similar to cases in which cancer patients end up eliminating certain essential foods from their diets in order to fight the disease, there are others that do the opposite, by adding different foods, herbs, or supplements that could be harmful, or simply, they increase the cost of one’s diet without any real evidence of their effectiveness. Remember what we spoke about in the first post about diet and cancer: “there is no ingredient or dietary product that can cure cancer by itself”.


Today we will speak in detail on this topic: its myths and realities.


Organic Foods.


Many informational sources recommend people who have been diagnosed with cancer to exclusively eat “natural” or organic foods. The same sources assure that conventional foods, which could contain pesticide residues or antibiotics, have the ability to cause some cancers or can be harmful during treatment. This unfounded information has increased the number of those diagnosed with cancer that opt to exclusively eat organic food. Nevertheless, it is not always easy to find them, nor to afford their prices, which can make the patient worry even more.


It is true that the national and international regulatory organizations are constantly revising the use of pesticides, herbicides, and antibiotics in food production and their possible health effects. In the European Union, all food is subjected to strict food safety requirements. The tests that are done must demonstrate, among others, that their application does not have any negative side effects in humans, either during their use in farms, or that some residues remain on the food.


Although many studies indicated that there is a higher concentration of some compounds such as vitamin C, polyphenols or dietary fiber in some products produced organically, until this date, it has not been demonstrated that organic food are significantly more safe or nutritious than those produced in the conventional way.


With respect to the effects that eating organic or conventional foods has on the prevention or treatment of cancer, studies show that there is no difference between one or the other.


Conclusion: Consumers can be sure that both organic and conventional foods can be consumed confidently in terms of their contribution to a healthy and balanced diet. Evidently, eating foods produced in the most sustainable way, such as organic farming or livestock, has benefits for the sustainability of the planet.




The recommendation to consume berries, to both prevent and cure cancer, is widespread and is one of the most recurrent advices when speaking about diet and the prevention or treatment of cancer. Berries are a group of small fruits that are rich in polyphenols, which give them their bright color, and have an elevated antioxidant power.


Although the FDA concludes that sufficient scientific evidence does not exist to show the effectivity of these compounds in the treatment and prevention of cancer, currently there are many studies with promising results. Some of the functions that they attribute to them, according to scientific studies carried out in a laboratory, they are able to selectively block certain present proteins that develop cancer or interfere in the formation of new blood veins close to tumors and in their path. Their antioxidant function and ability are to unlock molecular mechanisms that induce apoptosis (cell death) in tumor cells. Therefore, the evidence indicates that eating berries could have health benefits, although the studies done up until now only show results at the laboratory level.


Conclusion: Including berries in normal quantities in the diet is totally safe and beneficial, but the fact that they have shown some effects on health does not imply that they can cure cancer if consumed, nor that they are the only fruits or food that have such properties.


Flax Seeds.


Some people with cancer include flax seeds in their daily diet, after having heard or read about their possible benefits to combat the disease. With only one click on the internet various sources can be accessed that affirm that earing flax seeds can help prevent and cure cancer, mainly prostate, lung, colon, rectal, and breast cancers.


Scientific research suggests that flax seed can reduce the risk of cancer through the lignans (a compound with phytoestrogenic ability is present in this food) and also through linolenic acid or omega-3 fatty acids that it contains. Although the results in animals are optimistic, the human studies are limited, and, at the moment, do not suggest sufficient evidence in order to recommend the seeds are protection against cancer or as therapy during treatment.


Conclusion: Although the possible beneficial effects of consuming flax seeds on the treatment or prevention of cancer are not proven, moderate consumption (between one and three teaspoons a day) has benefits for the vascular system. So, eating them as a part of a balanced diet is completely optional and not a medical recommendation.


Supplements and Alternative Diets.


The use of dietary supplements and the following of alternative diets described as cancer preventative is widespread in people affected by cancer. Furthermore, the majority of the time, this type of complementary therapy has not been prescribed by any specialist. Therefore, it is the patient’s own choice without knowing if they are actually useful, dangerous, or simply ineffective.


Despite the growing research on the use of supplements in oncology that has been done in the most recent years, up until now there have been very few benefits proven in clinical trials. There are many supplements on the market, and their composition and quality can vary greatly between them. Many of these products are inoffensive and safe, but others can cause serious side effects. In some cases, they could interact or interfere in treatments that the patient is receiving and reduce their effectiveness. With regards to alternative diets or cancer-preventative diets, the results of a study published in 2014 in the journal Anticancer Research, concluded that some not only contribute to the likelihood of a cancer prognosis, but compromise the nutritional health of those patients.


For example, the ketogenic diet (based on the reduction of carbohydrates and caloric intake, with ingestion of protein and omega-3s) is related to a deficit in vitamins, a loss of appetite, constipation, hypoglycemia, metabolic acidosis, and lethargy. Macrobiotic and vegan diets are related to weight loss and a deficit in vitamin B12, calcium, iron, anemia, and a protein deficit. In the case of the alkaline diet, based on the choice of some foods or others based on their supposed capacity to change the pH of blood, a review did not find any published clinical data on the effect such a diet would have on patients being treated for cancer. It must be kept in mind that this type of diet excludes certain foods, something that could interfere with maintaining nutritional balance.


Conclusion: A balanced and sufficient diet provides the appropriate quantities of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that the body needs. Therefore, it is not recommended to take any supplements of complements (vitamins, minerals, herbs, essential oils, or any other type) without consulting your treatment specialist. An appropriate nutritional state is basic to be able to face the disease and its treatments, so it is very important to not follow any type of alternative diet that has not been prescribed by a dietician/nutritionist or by a team of oncologists that know the special case of each patient.


If you have been diagnosed with cancer, form a team with your doctor!


The most important thing, before doubting, is to consult your doctor. Ask and establish a trusting relationship. The oncology team (nurses, oncologists and surgeons) at HC Marbella, is able to make clear any doubt you may have, how strange it may seem. Don’t be scared to ask. Do not keep your doubts to yourself.



March 15, 2018




Read other news

Online appointment and download of test results through My HC.

Tel.: +34 952 908 628

952908898 Oncology
951829978 Diagnosis by imaging
951829947 Gynecology
952908897 Fertility
951829947 Physiotherapy




    I agree to receive e-mails with offers and news about this and other services. *



    Responsible: HC Hospitales, S.L. Purpose: Managing the appointment process. Sending you information by newsletter, upon your acceptance. Duration: The data is deleted once the information has been provided to you, unless you contract our services or request us to contact you in the future. With regard to the newsletter, the data is deleted when you unsubscribe from it. Recipients: We do not disclose your data to any other party. Rights: To access, rectify, and delete your data, as well as further rights explained in the additional information webpage:


    Specialized Care

    Patient Services

    HC Professionals

    Subscribe to our newsletter