How a Plant-Based Diet Can Benefit Cancer Patients

Thank you Virgil for your contribution!


Living with and being treated for cancer is hard on the body. One way that cancer patients can support good health while going through the rigors of chemotherapy, radiation, or while recovering from surgery, is to adopt a healthy diet. A plant-based diet has been shown time and time again to be a healthier way to eat, but it may be especially beneficial for cancer patients.

Breaking Down Plan-Based Diets

Being vegetarian refers to not eating meat, but there are several variations on this. The most common type of vegetarian diet is referred to as lacto-ovo-vegetarian, and includes a diet with no meat, fish or poultry, but with dairy and eggs. Some vegetarians may eat eggs and not dairy, dairy but not eggs, or some fish. Vegans eat no animal products at all, taking things one step further and eliminating consumption of dairy, eggs, and butter.

Health Benefits of A Plant-Based Diet

Eliminating meat and eating more fruits, nuts, seeds, vegetables, and beans is a diet that can give health benefits to anyone, not just cancer patients. For instance, vegetarians and vegans have been proven to have a lower incidence of cancer. Eating a healthy diet may help prevent certain types of cancer. Eating a vegetarian diet is also associated with a lower risk of heart disease and diabetes. There is even evidence that vegetarians have a lower overall risk of death from any cause.

Vegan Eating for Cancer Patients

Improving overall health is great for anyone, including cancer patients. If you are living with cancer and going through treatments, being in better general health will put you in a better position to fight your illness and to tolerate treatment. Better health even allows for more treatment opportunities for patients. Chronic health problems can rule out certain treatments in some patients.

Another great reason to consider going vegetarian is that there is strong evidence that cutting back on animal fat can increase life expectancy in cancer patients. A vegetarian diet is also proven to boost the immune system, which is important for fighting cancer cells. The power of immune cells in the body is nearly doubled in vegetarians as compared to meat eaters. One study even found that the blood of people who ate strict began diets was eight times more effective at suppressing the growth of cancer cells in a lab setting as compared to blood from people who ate meat.

If you are being treated for cancer, making any positive health changes can be beneficial. But, it is also important to check with your doctor before making a drastic change to your diet. Your medical team may be able to point out some risks that are specific to you or give you pointers on supplements you may need or advice from a nutritionist. If you get the go-ahead, transition to a healthier diet and see some serious benefits to your overall well-being.

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