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DIET... DIET... DIET???!!!!????


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When my mother was first diagnosed with Stage IV NSCLC, a friend in LA sent me over 100 pages of information from many new age sites concerning information ranging from conspiracy theories to diet plans for cancer.

I am a very open minded person -- but I was being bombarded with "ideas" and "theories" and just wanted to get my mother treatment.

We found a great doctor in Chicago -- Dr. Hensing -- and then went home and were pleased that the local doc -- Dubuque, Herman -- gave us the same plan of attack, the same drugs... including Avastin. So we felt comfortable with his plan, if not with his presentation or bed side manor.

Half way through the chemo we felt really good. The cancer had stopped spreading, but didn't really shrink. Mom had gained pounds instead of losing, she had not gotten too sick -- our only issue was the pain... and the loopiness that the pain killers brought to the table.

She was eating, and we kept her hydrated through frozen pops. We were so concerned about her not drinking water that we were thrilled to hydrate through these sugary treats.

NOW I AM CONCERNED that we did her a disservice by not paying strict attention to her diet intake. We are now done with the chemo -- six cycles! BUT the new scans revealed that the cancer has grown -- esspecially in her liver.

I've read that sugar and red meat feed cancer.

Must I get her to stop eating sugar, and red meat... and get her on a diet plan that will compliment further treatment? Some of the reading suggests YES, and makes me worry that I should have focused on other ways to get her to hydrate.

I am planning on asking the doctor if we can try avastin again -- for two or three cycles -- with a strict diet -- to see if it helps. But is that six weeks too long to take a stab at this?

If anyone has thoughts on diet and cancer... feel free to respond...

Thanks for reading and for the continued support!

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Hi Johnny.

I can offer only personal anecdotal 'evidence' that at least the claim about sugar is a crock.

In June 2004 I started the Atkins diet. For the first 4 weeks I had 0 grams of carbohydrates a day, for the next 48 weeks 15g or fewer. In that year I lost 50 lbs (and felt fantastic). From then (June 2005) till December 2007 I had 25g of carbs/day or fewer and maintained my new weight. Alas, in December 2007 I was dx with Stage 4 adenocarcinoma! So severely limiting sugar certainly didn't prevent my cancer from developing or spreading!

Parenthetically, after dx I said what the he** and indulged in pasta and bread and potatoes and cookies and all the things I'd missed -- and quickly gained 12 lbs! I'm now back on 25-30g of carbs/day and have lost 5 of those 12 lbs. So I am not advocating sugar (or starch -- which turns to sugar as soon as it hits your enzymes) but it surely doesn't have any direct relationship to cancer.


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Go over to Dr. West's site and ask the question. I had posed that question about sugar to him about a year ago and if memory serves me right, he said that is a myth. We would have to eat ENORMOUS amounts of sugar to have cancer reap any benefits from it.

Hope your mom feels better!!

Hugs - Patti B.

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Johnny, like Ellen I had dieted (weight watchers online) and lost fifteen pounds before I was dx'd with stage IIIb lung cancer. Of course, to do it I had severely curtailed my intake of sugar. After my dx, I fed my naseau whatever it wanted, regained the weight and my cancer went into remission. Seems to support that the idea that sugar feeds cancer is bogus.

Don't waste time on regrets or what ifs. I think a reasonably healthy diet is a good thing. Maybe it helps us tolerate the chemo better, but there are healthy people on site that could dispute even that.

Judy in Key West (now in GA)

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Hi Johnny. I too do not think you have done your mother any disservice. Her response to the chemo would have been the same regardless. You do what you do to get through chemo and eat and drink whatever works for you. A reasonably healthy diet is all that is needed. I don' t think there is any good reason to go overboard trying to change anybody's diet drastically at this point in the game. I think many here would agree with me.


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Johnny- I agree with everybody else. A lot of misinformation is out there re: the sugar issue. It was actually my mother's psychologist at the cancer center that first mentioned to her that sugar can fuel cancer. Mom's onc quickly dispused the real-life applications of that theory.

I really would be hesitant to do what you propose with Avastin and diet.I would be leery of exposing her to the side effects of a more-than-longshot treatment that she has already progressed on. Also, I would be really worried that restricting red meat and sugar would also restrict her calories. At this point, keeping on the pounds is probably more beneficial than trying to starve the cancer through sugar restriction.

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Johnny, you raise an interesting question. My mom just got a hold of a book that says that sugar feeds the tumors. I also have some anecdotal evidence about a low glycemic diet. I don't have LC, but I do know that while I was on a low glycemic diet I felt better and had fewer colds so I think my immune system was stronger. I mostly stopped eating refined sugars and flours and stuck with whole grains, fruits, veggies and protein. I ate a lot of protein. I don't think there is any scientific evidence that cutting out sugar will slow or stop the tumors from growing, but anything that strengthens the immune system will likely keep your mom stronger during additional treatments. I think the term "healthy" diet is the most important here.


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I understand that there may be studies that say a healthy diet is better, but I can only go by my experience..........my mom eats cookies, cake, lots of bread, lots of fruit (fruit has sugar). Sometimes she has cookies and tea for breakfast or lunch. Sometimes ice cream will be her dinner instead of food. She eats what she wants b/c certain foods make her nauseous still. November will mark 5 years. I personally have not seen her diet play any role and I don't buy into the diet stuff only b/c I haven't seen it have any effect on my parents :)

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After I was through with treatment, I went to a complementary medicine clinic in the Chicago area. They believe in all the medical technology but think that there are other things you can do to maximize your chances of beating disease.

I had extensive (and expensive) blood testing, sent all my medical records to them, and then spent the day there being seen by doctor, dietition, etc.

Their recommendation was that I follow a vegan diet and take a lot of supplements. While I understand their theories behind the vegan diet, it was just not something I could sustain, having been born and rasied in the Midwest where beef, pork, and chicken were always on the table.

They highly recommended that I eat berries of any kind as much as possible (I do that), and that I should eat a lot of vegetables and other kinds of fruit, always washing it really well. (I do that)

I eat a lot less red meat than I used to, and I don't buy the sugar feeds cancer theory, but I find that sugar just increases my appetite, so I try to limit that.

Actually, my best success at weight control has come from following the South Beach Diet, with lean protein and heavy emphasis on vegetables with some fruit and whole grains. I had energy, and wasn't hungry. I also lost a good amount of weight. I'm trying to get back to that after having a lapse in disipline this summer!!!! :roll:

I also do supplements that I've chosen over the years and, for me, they're working out really well.

I know not everyone is able to do this, with treatments and limitations, but any exercise I can get also makes me feel so much better.

Those are just my thoughts, but I think the goal would be to get your mom on a plan that makes her feel good and gives her the energy to do the things she needs and wants to do.


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