Blog Article Archive

New Research: Coffee and Colorectal Cancer

Higher coffee intake may be associated with significantly reduced cancer recurrence and death in patients with stage III colon cancer, according to a study of 953 patients with stage III colon cancer, during and 6 months after adjuvant chemotherapy. Researchers found that compared to patients who abstained from coffee:

*Patients consuming 4 or more cups of total coffee daily experienced an adjusted hazard ratio (HR) of 0.58 for recurrence or mortality.

*Patients consuming 4 or more cups of caffeinated coffee experienced significant reduced risk of recurrence or mortality (HR, 0.48).

*Increasing caffeine intake also conferred a significant reduction in recurrence or mortality (HR, 0.66).

Guercio BJ, Sato K, Niedzwiecki D, et al. Coffee intake, recurrence, and mortality in stage III colon cancer: results from CALGB 89803 (Alliance). J Clin Oncol. 2015 Aug 17


Study: After beating cancer, survivors less likely to eat a healthy diet – Paula Wolfson

WASHINGTON — A new study finds that cancer survivors, as a whole, have bad eating habits — they take in a lot of empty calories and are less likely to eat a healthy diet than Americans in general.

Researchers at Tufts University in Boston analyzed the diets of 1,500 cancer survivors and 3,000 adults with no history of the disease, ranking them according to government dietary guidelines.

No one did well, but the cancer survivors did worse.

“It is troubling,” says Danielle Cook, an holistic nutritionist and the author of “Happily Hungry: Smart Recipes for Kids with Cancer.”

Cook, whose own son beat cancer as a child, is especially concerned about teen and young adult cancer survivors.

“Once their treatment is done, a lot of them feel invincible and the nutrition component just doesn’t really come into play,” she says.

The Tufts researchers looked at survivors across a range of ages, and the authors of the study point out that poor eating habits can increase their risk of developing other health problems, including heart disease and diabetes.

“It is quite remarkable that you can come through a cancer and you put yourself at risk for other illnesses and setback by following a poor diet,” says Cook.

She emphasizes there is a tremendous need for cancer survivors to pay attention to what they are eating, and focus on what she calls “real foods” — fresh fruits and vegetables, lean proteins and healthy fats.

The Tufts study did not look at the reasons behind the poor dietary choices of cancer survivors. Treatment can cause nausea and affect the taste buds, but those side effects tend to ease over time.

It’s possible the poor food choices are the result of bad habits acquired during chemotherapy, when patients start eating certain calorie-rich and nutrient-poor foods to counter weight loss.

But Cook says there can also be a bit of patient rationalizing at play.

“What is concerning to me is those patients who just feel that the nutrition component really isn’t that important, that they beat cancer and should just go about living their life,” she says.

The Tufts researchers says the cancer survivors they surveyed went beyond recommend levels of saturated fat and salt, and did not get enough vitamin D, vitamin E, potassium or calcium.

Their findings were published Tuesday in the journal Cancer.

New Research: Kimchi to prevent gastric cancer?

Jeong M, Park JM, Han YM, Park KY, Lee DH, Yoo JH, Cho JY, Hahm KB. Dietary prevention of Helicobacter pylori-associated gastric cancer with kimchi. Oncotarget. 2015 Aug 10.

Daily dietary intake of Kimchi can be an effective way either to rejuvenate H. pylori-atrophic gastritis or to prevent tumorigenesis.


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Can Cancer Treatments cause Cancer? Understand your risk of acquiring a secondary cancer.

It is not a recurrence, and it is not a metastasis (the spread of cancer from one part of the body to another). A secondary cancer, or second primary cancer, is a new cancer that develops in a person who has had cancer before.

“It’s a different type of cancer,” explains Kamal Patel, MD, Medical Director of Radiation Oncology at Cancer Treatment Centers of America® (CTCA) in Zion, Illinois. “A secondary cancer develops at least two months after primary diagnosis,” he says. “It’s a separate tumor that’s very different from recurrence or metastasis.”

Pamela Crilley, DO, Chief of Medical Oncology at CTCA® in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, explains that secondary cancers can be caused by treatment for the first cancer, such as radiation therapy or certain chemotherapy drugs. She adds, however, that treatment is not always the cause. “It is also possible for a patient to have a second cancer that is unrelated either to the primary cancer or to the initial treatment,” she says.

Fortunately, due to advances in treatments, secondary cancers are relatively rare today. As a patient or survivor, however, it is still important to be aware of the risk and the value of follow-up and screenings. “Early detection is important to improve outcomes,” explains Dr. Crilley.

The Link Between Treatment and Secondary Cancers
Two big culprits in secondary cancers are radiation and chemotherapy, and they carry different risks. “Radiation is more likely to result in solid tumors that occur 10 to 20 years or more after treatment,” says Dr. Patel. He explains that chemotherapy is more likely to cause nonsolid tumors (such as cancers of the blood), which tend to occur in the first 10 years after treatment.

According to Dr. Crilley, solid tumors occur more frequently as secondary cancers than do blood cancers. “An example of a solid tumor arising from treatment would be breast cancer in a patient who had been treated years earlier for a Hodgkin’s lymphoma with radiation therapy to the chest,” she explains. Lung cancer, she says, is another example and can occur 10 or 15 years or even longer after initial exposure to treatment.

“The biggest concern with secondary cancers is for pediatric patients,” says Dr. Patel. Children exposed to radiation or chemotherapy may have full life expectancies, giving them more opportunity to develop another cancer.

Reducing Risk
Though secondary cancers remain an important consideration for survivors, perhaps the most significant message about risk is that advances in treatment are allowing doctors to limit this threat. The emphasis, says Dr. Patel, is on treating the current cancer while limiting long-term side effects.

Dr. Patel admits, however, that safety cannot be entirely guaranteed when it comes to the affect of cancer treatment. For example, “There is no safe dose of radiation,” he says, “but we’re aware of the risk and try to limit exposure.”

Newer technology that limits radiation exposure includes proton radiation therapy. This approach uses streams of protons (tiny particles with a positive charge) to kill tumor cells. Because radiation is targeted at cancer cells, exposure to surrounding healthy tissues is reduced. The goal is a lower risk of long-term complications, including secondary cancers.

Long-term risks related to chemotherapy have also been reduced as research related to treatment has advanced. “Selection of chemotherapy agents to eliminate or minimize exposure to alkylating agents [shown to increase the risk of secondary cancers] will decrease the risk of long-term second malignancies, such as certain types of leukemia, lymphoma or blood disorders,” Dr. Crilley explains.

As a patient, says Dr. Crilley, you can play a role in making informed decisions about your treatment and the potential long-term risk of a secondary cancer. She encourages patients to ask questions and become well informed. “In-depth discussions with your oncology providers, including your radiation and medical oncologists, will provide insight to help you understand any potential risks, short or long term,” she says.

The considerations you and your doctor will take into account include personal factors and treatment options, says Dr. Crilley. “Your age at the time of the initial treatment of the primary cancer may influence selection of which treatment would be least likely to cause long-term adverse effects,” she explains.

Screening and Prevention
Once you have made an informed decision to move forward with a treatment that carries a risk of secondary cancer, you can take important steps to reduce your risk or detect a secondary cancer early, if one develops.

“Effective screening is available for patients at risk for a secondary cancer,” says Dr. Crilley. “For example,” she explains, “in women at risk for breast cancer after treatment with radiation for Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a yearly breast MRI [magnetic resonance imaging scan] may detect an early secondary cancer.” She adds that, similarly, patients at risk for lung cancer after radiation can be screened with a CT [computed tomography] scan. In any case, secondary cancers that are found early can be treated early, which can improve outcomes.

You can also take proactive steps of your own to reduce your risk. “Lifestyle can make a difference,” says Dr. Patel. He recommends avoiding smoking (which can make treatment less effective and increase the risk of side effects, including secondary cancers), avoiding alcohol in excess or altogether, engaging in regular physical activity and eating a healthy diet.

Remain Vigilant
Awareness and close follow-up remain important measures for reducing your risk of secondary cancers. Though the risk of secondary cancers with current treatment is not great, in some cases it remains a long-term, or ongoing, complication. “As a survivor, you’ll want to continue close follow-up with your oncology care team,” says Dr. Patel.

Ultimately, survivors should be encouraged by the fact that advances in treatment to limit long-term complications mean the risk of a secondary cancer is likely very low. And remember, your oncologist’s goal is to choose treatment that effectively treats current cancer with minimal long-term risks.


  • written by Mia James from CTCA

5 Veggies that are Healthier Cooked!

By Rachael Bieschke

Raw vegetables are often touted as superior to cooked veggies, and this is sometimes true. Cooking can potentially lead to the degradation of enzymes, vitamins and antioxidants – higher levels of which generally equate with a healthier food.

However, as is often the case there are exceptions to the ‘rule’ that raw is better. With some vegetables the cooking process actually helps to break down fiber, helping with digestion, and may make certain nutrients more bioavailable to your body.

Supermarket Guru recently highlighted five such vegetables that are actually healthier when cooked … along with the best cooking methods to use.

  1. Tomatoes: Cooking boosts the amount of the antioxidant lycopene in tomatoes by up to 35 percent – excellent news for those of you who love a good tomato sauce! Lycopene may help lower your risk of cancer and supports heart health.
  1. Carrots: Cooked carrots have higher levels of beta-carotene, which your body converts into vitamin A. Blanching or steaming carrots will help preserve their antioxidants.
  1. Cruciferous Veggies (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, etc.): Cooking cruciferous vegetables leads to the formation of cancer-fighting indole. Chopping or chewing these veggies may also activate detoxifying enzymes in your liver that may help neutralize free radicals and reduce inflammation. Soups made from cruciferous vegetables (such as cream of broccoli) are a good choice, since many of their nutrients are water-soluble.
  1. Mushrooms: Nutrients including calcium, iron, zinc and antioxidants increase when mushrooms are cooked. Plus, cooking mushrooms with a bit of butter or olive oil will allow you to absorb more of the fat-soluble vitamin D they contain.
  1. Winter Squash: Winter squash can be eaten raw, but it’s far more enjoyable to most when it’s cooked. The good news is that its nutrients are well retained when it’s baked, making baked winter squash a wonderful source of beta carotene for your lung, eye, skin and immune system health.

There is, of course, a fine line when it comes to cooking fresh produce. Overcooking is not recommended and will typically deplete heat-sensitive nutrients, such as vitamin C. When you do cook your veggies, choose gentle methods like steaming or quick sautéing, and only cook to a ‘tender-crisp’ (not mushy) consistency.

Overall, strive for a healthy balance of both cooked and raw foods in your diet, and remember that, in most cases, raw fruits and vegetables will win out over cooked, nutrition wise.

Supermarket Guru