A Diet for Chemotherapy - Various Expert views

A Diet for Chemotherapy - Various Expert views

The NHS cancer diet to go with Chemotherapy - a recipe for disaster?
This is part 1 of a two part article on ’A Diet for Chemotherapy’. This article reviews exactly what a number of ’expert’ nutritionists and dieticians said to us about the ideal cancer-beating diet back in 2008. From their views below, and from all the very latest research, Chris Woollams has drawn together everything you need to know on a Diet for Chemotherapy, indeed a diet to beat cancer in Part II. You can CLICK THIS LINK, to go straight to the article ’a Diet for Chemotherapy, by Chris Woollams’, where he looks at the latest research and explains in simple terms exactly what to do. Empty plate

The origin for these two articles was an NHS booklet sent to CANCERactive by a couple of incredulous patients - that booklet recommended sticky buns, milky sugary tea, cheeseburgers and milkshakes as a ’diet for chemotherapy’!

We explain how the NHS gets to its diet below, and in Part II there is full coverage of the latest research on diet and cancer, which will help you understand exactly what research shows works, and what doesn’t. 

Many people use a healthier cancer diet as a part of their personal holistic or integrative cancer treatment. They read stories in the paper, hear about the successes of a friend of a friend. Beetroot cured her cancer. ’Vitamin’ B-17 cured his. Many people turn vegan in the belief that this meat-free regime will help. Most people change their diet in some way, to correct the poor diet of the past, to boost their health now and to address their cancer nutrition deficiencies. But what is a healthier diet - an anti-cancer diet? And do these changes people make do any good?

Nowhere is the need for knowledgable cancer nutrition more accute than when it comes to having chemotherapy?

Of course, some people (often those for whom orthodox medicine has failed) use a diet therapy to the exclusion of any orthodox treatment. In that scenario we must call the Diet-Cancer option an alternative treatment! However many cancer patients use such diet therapies along side orthodox treatments.

The two most frequently named Diet Therapies in the UK are those of Gerson in the USA, originating some 45 years ago, and updated by Lawrence Plaskett vice chair of the Nutritional council in the UK. Critics of Diet Therapies point out their supposedly poor cure rates and that they have no clinical trials to support them. But then nor has brachytherapy and the trendy ’Cybeknife’, or indeed most of the cancer treatments for under 12s.

Charlotte Gerson claims a 30% overall success rate (remember these are largely people who have been through all the orthodox treatments and met with failure). There is a 2008 study in Cancer Watch on melanoma which gives her claim some support.

Open quotesEating to beat cancer is a cornerstone of icons integrated philosophyClose quotes

However, there are now diet therapies with clinical trials behind them. Dr Nicholas Gonzalez in New York has FDA monitored clinical trials behind his; and Professor Ben Pfeifer of Switzerland has Clinical Trials to support his prostate cancer diet therapy.

Most importantly The American Cancer Society in it’s 2012 report, talks of an ’explosion’ in research into complementary therapies, and ’overwhelming’ evidence that a good diet, weight control and light daily exercise can INCREASE SURVIVAL TIMES and keep a patient CANCER-FREE. The National Cancer Centre in America has endorsed the report. 

Furthermore, NCI researchers have shown that certain foods encourage the re-growth of cancer while others stop it from happening. 

And then there is specific research that shows glucose and high-fructose corn syrup ’feed’ your cancer cells, excess salt causes cellular instability, cows’ dairy can increase levels of unwanted growth hormone in your body, while other foods and natural compounds can slow cancer cell growth, stop metastases, and even kill cancer cells. You really must read ’Diet and Chemotherapy, by Chris Woollams’, the second part of this article (Click Here

We also know that cancer is not some cockroach to be trodden on, but is in fact a multi-step process. In the book, The Rainbow Diet and how it can help you beat cancer, Chris looks at 17 such steps (from inflammation, to rogue cell formation, to developing a blood supply, to firing off metastases around to body) and at which natural compounds in research have been shown to stop each stage.Fruit and veg

We are not alone in the multi-step view. John Boik of the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Texas has the same view. And this is why we believe there will never be a single all-step-acting cure for cancer. Not Tamoxifen, nor Herceptin, nor B-17 nor vitamin D.

Our advice consistently includes a focus on whole foods and plenty and varied organic fresh fruit and vegetables, avoiding fats, processed foods, refined sugar and grains and dairy. And we have a bias towards the Rainbow Diet, the hugely corrective and protective diet of the Northern Mediterranean.

Beware NHS booklets!

And so we reacted with incredulity and alarm when a reader drew our attention to an information booklet prepared by a top UK cancer hospital, The Royal Marsden, for patients facing chemotherapy. (it now turns out that this is the NHS Dieticians booklet on a Diet for Chemotherapy patients)

The following items were on the menu, complete with little illustrations of cheeseburgers, milkshakes and sticky buns!

  • Swiss rolls

  • Chocolate

  • Butter

  • Cream

  • Instant soups

  • Crisps

  • Convenience foods

  • Ready-made meals

CANCERactive and icon magazine aim to bring you answers and information. Knowledge that can empower you to make better choices and so increase your personal odds of survival.

So what is this NHS diet - a diet that potentially could feed a cancer cell at the very moment your doctor is trying to kill it? A Diet that actually runs counter to the Government recommendations on Healthy Eating that we all read daily?

To shed some light on this we wrote to the Royal Marsden and received a curt reply that basically said this was a diet written by UK Government approved dieticians! So that will be perfect then. 

We thought we needed to collect some expert views and so we sampled a number of UK hospital dietitians and other independent nutritionists, and we were amazed by the variation in their views on what constitutes cancer nutrition and a diet for cancer patients having chemotherapy.

So - here is part 1 of a two part review - if you read Part 2 Chris will give you his own, recommendations for a Diet for Chemotherapy taken from the latest research (click here to read).

 Jane Sen, dietary adviser to the Bristol Cancer Help Centre

There seem to be two camps. Whenever I get up and speak, its the health professionals who leap up to disagree. I suppose that hospital dietitians have a different experience and training, and they do have an extremely difficult job, seeing people at the very worst edge of debilitation. Their response system works so that they never see anyone until they are flat on their back in a hospital bed perhaps suffering from malnutriton. Then the great fear seems to be that they wont get anything into them. They are so stretched that they only get time to see the 7 per cent of patients that are in trouble with catchexia - serious weight loss due to Chemotherapy. And their need is to build weight, resulting in getting food - any food, high calorie food etc - down the cancer patients throats. 

The problem is that they then write a booklet, which the other 93 per cent of chemotherapy patients also read!

Meredy Pritchard: Macmillan dietitian at Addenbrookes Hospital, Cambridge

Open quotesOur advice is designed to maintain or improve our patients nutritional status while they are having chemotherapyClose quotes


We have five oncology dietitians here and I personally have a full-time job seeing patients with head and neck cancers. Ideally wed screen all cancer patients before their chemotherapy, but the reality is that its mainly the patients with real problems who are referred. Our advice is designed to maintain or improve our patients nutritional status while they are having chemotherapy. Often this means a total reversal of the healthy eating principles, because during this treatment many patients feel sick and do risk losing weight and even becoming malnourished. So we suggest high calorie, high protein foods: full cream milk and full fat yoghurts instead of low fat yoghurts and spreads. To us, as dietitians, it is a concern that some complementary diets may recommend a restricted diet to cancer patients - low fat, low sugar meals, high in fruit and veg are not necessarily going to help people maintain weight and our evidence-based practice suggests that, on our regime, people respond better to chemotherapy, feel better in themselves and have better outcomes after surgery and oncological treatments. To counter sickness we would advise ginger beer, ginger biscuits , perhaps perppermint tea, high-carb drinks like Lucozade or Appletise which have loads of sugar to help hydration and settle nausea. If you know you are going to feel sick after eating, its wise to avoid your favourite foods because you could develop a learned association, A good motto for eating during chemo is "Make the most of good times and dont worry too much about the bad". The most critical thing is to maintain hydration.


If a patient is managing to maintain nutritional status on meat, white fish and wholegrains, then thats fine, but if they are actually struggling to maintain their body weight, then they should have high protein, high calorie foods such as custards and rice pudding which are easy to chew and swallow. If they are happy to cook, thats great, but you can devise high-energy, read-made menu plans of chicken casserole, shepherds pie, ice creams, choc ices, tinned fruit in syrup. This isnt the time to worry about a balanced intake as long as you are trying to keep well nourished.

Open quotesChemotherapy has systemic effects on the bodyClose quotes


Chemotherapy has systemic effects on the body. Some drugs used, distort tastes and alter perception of foods, which patients then say tastes like metal or cardboard. For them its important to eat light snacks, little and often, as full-portion meals may overface them. They also need to drink plenty to avoid becoming dehydrated, which could mean interrupting the treatment. For those who lose interest in food, for my particular who have trouble chewing and swallowing and for many chemo patients who develop sore mouths we suggest nutritional supplement drinks made by various companies - Abbott, Nutricia, Fresenius, Nestle. Theres a huge variety, some milky, some fruit or yoghurt-based, and they provide you with 200-600 calories you can take through a straw. In addition there are food fortifying powders, soups and puddings available through your doctor or dietitian - all soft and easy to swallow. We usually suggest a comprehensive multi-vitamin taken daily too, but not assorted single, megadose vitamin supplements which have risks of their own and may inhibit the absorption of other nutrients. Ends


Dr Damien Downing, specialist in nutritional environmental medicine and Director, Nutrition Associates

When dealing with cancer I treat the individual not statistics. But basically Id advise everything organic and minimise the red meat. A lot of people find the whole juicing appraoch works quiet well - its practical, relatively easy to digest and has the advantage of giving you certain reasonable doses of the supplements you need plus the flavonoids that help vitamin C absorption. As far as supplements are concerned at this time you need two basic categories - anti-oxidants and the other immune stimulants. A person facing chemo needs anti-oxidants supplements vigorously and as soon as possible. A lot of people have said that the anti-oxidants interfere with the effect of chemo, but hard evidence goes to the contrary. Block and Evans review of recent results (in the Journal of Nutritional, Allergy and Environmental Medicine 2001 volume 4) addressing the potential interactions on anti-oxidants with cancer drug therapy favours a number of specific, principally anti-oxidant nutrients such as vitamins C and E, zinc, selenium and co-enzyme Q 10.

Open quotesYou may also want to supplement certain things that occur naturally in the bodyClose quotes


You may also want to supplement certain things that occur naturally in the body such as melatonin and quite large quantities of vitamin C are warranted. Certain of the above nutrients can also be regarded as immune stimulants, but in this category there are some further preparations such as good quality cod liver oil and oriental mushrooms. Id also recommend vitamin D in large quantities and I say large because decades ago we mucked up the sums here, which means weve only been giving adults the dose thats appropriate for toddlers. If you think about it, the highest recommended daily dose is 400, 500 maybe 800, but if you are out in the sun for enough of the day to lightly tan you but not enough to burn you and exposing most of your skin, you will get a dose of about 10,000 units - so in the order of magnitude we could do with 12 times as much. Thats one thing, and the second is that epidemiologiclly its clear that cancer rates go up the further you get from the Equator - except when you go up mountains. Drug companies are all now researching vitamin D, which seems to be the anti-cancer agent par excellence - it stops cancer cells proliferating and makes them differentiate back to being normal cells.


Jane Sen, dietary adviser to the Bristol Cancer Help Centre and author of More Healing Foods (HarperCollins 12.99)

The first priority when facing chemo is to prepare yourself and see how well you can be before going into it. Even if you know a month before it starts, begin eating lots of fresh fruit and veg. Organics? Hmm - having chemo, you are going to be overloaded with toxins that would probably knock a carthorse out, so to be worrying too much about the traces in a carrot does seem to be a little ridiculous. What is good for you about organics is what is NOT in them, but that doesnt mean you lose the goodness in regular greengrocery. You dont need is to be stressed out or beating yourself up about the shopping.

Open quotesDuring chemo, all prior dietary advice can just go out of the windowClose quotes


Theres no doubt that during chemo, all prior dietary advice can just go out of the window. Its worth remembering that the most active anti-oxidant in a fruit or vegetable is very often the thing that gives the dominant colour, beta- carotene in carrots, lycopene in tomatoes etc, so when out shopping, stop to check your basket for colour variety. If you havent got anything yellow, or green and stripey go back and get it, or top up with it later in the week. Its important you get all the different package of phyto-nutrients. Rethink the way you organise a meal - instead of meat with veg, make it veg with a little meat or fish. Try to allow your diet to be dominated by plant foods.


Responses are entirely individual, but overall, chemo seems not only to change your appetite but actually to alter your perception of food. For example, somebody who has loved apples all their life may suddenly find that they cant be in the same room with them. If you dont feel like eating get someone to juice for you - carrots and apples, oranges, strawberries and mango - choose cominations that you fancy and enjoy, and keep it varied. If youre having any problems digesting fibre this is also a very good way of getting vitamins and minerals without so much fibre. People are often concerned that juicing is complicated, so my advice is to go into a shop like Currys, take all the juicers apart and choose the one that you think most cope-able with. If it feels difficult youll only end up shoving it in the cupboard. People also worry about how long it takes to wash a juicer: my tip is to clean it immediately - I run mine under the tap with a stiff brush then leave it to drain. And I do this before I drink my juice - delayed gratification is the trick that works.

Another tip to reduce nausea or sickness is ginger tea: break a walnut-size piece off a ginger root, then either grate or smash it with the bottom of a jam jar. Throw it in the teapot, fill up with boiling water, steep and sip gently, hot or cold as you need. You can just keep filling up the pot all day. If you want, add a lemon slice which is also a very effective against nausea and then you have the combination at work. Slippery elm powder -which I was initially sceptical about - is also very effective if you have digestive discomfort or loss of appetite. Its powdered bark and has an amazing ability to soothe the digestive tract all the way from a sore throat to a sore bottom. Take it by mixing a teaspoon of the powder with a little cold soya milk in the bottom of a cup then stir in hot water and you have a smooth milky drink. Rather than pour ice cream and sugary custards into people with sore mouths, Id suggest a frozen banana, which is one of the most wonderfully soothing foods. Peel six at a time, wrap them separately in clingfilm and then, when the mouth is sore and you feel really grim, its just like a little banana ice cream. Some people find that theyve lost saliva and a good remedy here is sliced pineapple straight from the fridge.

Open quotesAnother tip to reduce nausea or sickness is ginger teaClose quotes


Sugar? Well, your pancreas is there to produce insulin to help clear the sugar out of your blood stream, and thats quite energetic on your cellular process. So we would always say, try to reduce your sugar intake. A spoonful of molasses or maple syrup is the best occasional sweetener. Dairy? I would dump it altogether personally: its a very good idea to reduce or eliminate saturated fats like cheese and cream. Use soya or rice milk which are positively nutritious. I would also advise wholegrain of some description every day - brown rice, millet, barley - just one portion. If youre not used to that, try porridge in the morning, wholemeal bread or wholemeal pasta - you want more soluble fibre in the diet to increase your ability to absorb nutrients from your food.


If all else fails on the eating front, you can make a thick shake using a teaspoon of slippery elm powder, a banana, a pint of soya milk, two oz of fresh tofu (which is soya bean protein), a teaspoon or so of maple syrup, a drop or two of vanilla essence - its just like a Macdonalds milk shake except that is will build muscle not fat. Its delicious too with soaked dates or a handful of ground almonds. Theres no more crucial time to be thinking about good food and how it matters to put goodness into yourself , because you are precious and important. Diet is one way of increasing the odds in your favour and its such an incredibly marvellous way to get well and be well. Lets not forget that two years ago the World Cancer Research Fund took an overview of all the available evidence and concluded that 30-40 per cent of all cancer can be prevented by dietary change. ends

The Bristol Cancer Help Centre offers two and five day courses to help cancer patients nourish and nurture their bodies.

Loraine Gillespie, Dietitian, Christie Hospital, Manchester

At the moment we have two dietitians for the entire hospital with over 300 beds for cancer patients, so its just not possible for us to see everyone before chemo starts. But all chemo in-patients are nutritionally screened by a qualified nurse, which helps to identify potential problems and screen for those who are already malnourished, or at risk. If so they are then referred to us for a nutrition care plan, which is monitored throughout their stay. Often the risk increases as treatment takes effect, giving rise to sickness, constipation or nausea, which is quite common with certain drugs likes 5FU, used for some bowel patients. Csiplatin which is given to ovary, teratomas and head and neck cancers can also produce side effects of nausea, vomiting, sore or dry mouths.

Open quotesAll chemo in-patients are nutritionally screened by a qualified nurse, which helps to identify potential problems and screen for those who are already malnourished or at riskClose quotes


If people have poor appetite we suggest eating little and often, and, if nauseous, avoiding a favourite meal just prior to chemo, because otherwise they could develop a lasting food aversion. Make up for favourite foods on the good days when you can eat well, and on difficult days do try to get your fluids in. If you are feeling nauseous then flat lemonade may help, also ginger biscuits, plain crackers or anything very bland and plain - never spicy. More important than healthy eating at this stage is keeping nourished, so our advice is to relax things a bit and have some higher calorie foods - whatever you fancy through your treatment. Instead of low fat, wed advocate full cream milk and yoghurts to try and get the calories and protein in. Our "Eating - Help Yourself" guide for patients in treatment suggests snack such as crisps and nuts, small sandwiches, cakes, biscuits, dried fruit, chocolate bars, ice cream or sorbet, cereal with milk, popcorn, slices of pizza and sweet desserts like crvme caramel, mousess and cheesecake.


It can be very hard for patients who arent eating well, but feel under pressure from anxious relatives saying "you must eat." There is a lot of guilt around, as subconsciously food - and cooking it - equates with love. One patient whose wife was forcing him to eat developed a psychological barrier to food and could not anything. I had to explain that he shouldnt be expected to eat the portions he did formerly, and that he was best off eating very small amounts of high calorie food slowly building up the amount over time.

The reason why we are so keen to for patients to keep up their calorie and protein intake, rather than focus on healthy eating, is that they themselves are concerned about nourishment and weight loss that can lead to malnutrition. Patients who are porly nourished prior to commencing chemo appear to become more so with each cycle of chemo. They have a redcued response to treatment, increased toxicity to the drugs, poor wound healing, reduced resistance to infection and therefore reduced quality of life.

Dr Clare Shaw, Chief Dietitian, Royal Marsden Hospital, London and Sutton.

Open quotesWe probably deal with the tip of the iceberg, seeing patients with the most problemsClose quotes


We have five dietitians for some 350 in-patients and a large out-patient population so we probably deal with the tip of the iceberg, seeing patients with the most problems. We do quite a lot of education with the nursing staff who give first-line advice to patients, but refer to our deparmtent those who are losing weight or really struggling to eat. These are most likely to be children, or those diagnosed with head and neck cancers, leukaemia, lymphoma, myeloma and gastro-intestinal patients, especially those with upper GI tumours. Breast patients are more likely to be able to carry on eating relatively as usual. Patients who lose weight may be more likely to need breaks in their treatment bcause of toxicity to treatment or poor immuniety (lowered white cell count). It may also be that patients who have lost a lot of weight actually get less treatment because the drug dose is based on body weight. So thats another good reason to stop people losing weight. But what is difficult - if you look at the literature - is to show that stopping people losing weight improves their survival. More studies are needed.


Rainbow diet Click here to read about The Rainbow DietAs for outcomes based on what people eat, there are again no good studies to show that altering the balance of macronutrients (protein, fat and carboyhdrates) makes any difference. Unless there are specific reasons (some gastro-intestinal patients may have an intolerance to fat, and those whove had their stomach removed may have problems with very sugary foods) wed go along the lines of a good healthy diet that includes variety and all the nutrients. Meal plans based on the foods that individual patients find easiest to eat may often include promoting food that has higher fat and sugar intake, if patients have lost weight or are unable to eat a normal diet because, for example, they have swallowing difficulties. We might be talking to them about using extra butter or margarine, encouraging them to eat snacks like nuts, cheese and, if they could achieve their nutrients intake better this way, then indulging personal taste for puddings and desserts.

Open quotesDiet for chemotherapy is more about managing to continue with an adequate nutritional intake given the circumstancesClose quotes


These are not necessarily foods that would feature in a so-called healthy eating plan, with low fat, low sugar, five fruit and veg. Diet for chemotherapy is more about managing to continue with an adequate nutritional intake given the circumstances. We do stress that this is short-term, and patients coming out of chemotherapy, are encouraged to return to healthy eating, once they have resumed a normal diet. For patients who find it hard to eat sufficient food at this stage, we advise supplementing vitamin and mineral intake, often in the form of drinks like Build Up Ensure Plus, Fortisip or Fortijuice and many others. Supplements are also prescribed if a patient can meet energy requirements with ordinary foods but isnt meeting their vitamin or mineral requirements, or perahps (again with GI patients) not absorbing enough.


Our doctors are very good at using appropriate anti-emetics for sickness, but we also suggest glucose drinks and dry crackers. Ginger ale is actually served on the wards. Another trick is to offer nauseous patients cold food rather than hot which smells great if you are hungry but can really put you off when nauseous. Its actually very difficult for patients to come and talk to us about food when they are feeling sick, so we like to wait until the doctors have adjusted their medication.

Chris Ashton, Biochemist and Director of the Nutritional Cancer Therapy Trust

We always say that chemotherapy is so powerful that it overwhelms any goodness you try to introduce. But if you are having it, do what all the population should do: live on an organic diet which will give essential nutrients. Anyone with active cancer or on chemo should avoid eating all animals and animal products - cut out all oils - which boost tumour growth - and fat apart from a limited amount of flax oil. Have fat free cooking, avoid nuts and seeds because these also contain oil.

Open quotesYou should have a strictly vegan diet with fresh fruit and
Close quotes


Once free of cancer you can have two or three different types of nut and pumpkin seeds. You should have a strictly vegan diet with fresh fruit and vegetables. Avoid anything processed in a factory, other than a little dried fruit, because processing reduces nutrients. If, as a nation, we want to reverse the rise in cancer here, we should look to a country like Brazil which is almost entirely organic and where the cost of living is minuscule.


Lesley Pearce, trainer for Gerson Therapy

Gerson Therapy is a life-alteration. You are looking at changing not only your diet but the whole way you live. The emphasis on 13 fresh juices a day really makes for very hard work and you certainly cant do this therapy and have a job at the same time. It involves 50-60 hours a week in the kitchen alone - at least for six to eight months after which it become less hard a taskmaster. Devoting yourself to the Gerson therapy (for the required two years) can cost 18-20,000 a year. Ideally a patient with cancer would do Gerson as their main therapy with chemo as an adjunct. A patient coming to us for the first time as they start chemo could only do a modified version of the therapy because the full Gerson involves too drastic a detoxification. So if they want to do chemo first, our therapy just takes longer and the person needs more supervision, because the regime has to be more gentle - perhaps 10 rather than 13 juices daily, depending on how strong the person is. We dont want to push a fragile immune system. We might recommend three to four coffee enemas instead of five to help the liver detox and clear out the gall bladder and bile duct.

Open quotesSome of our recommended supplements are from animal sourcesClose quotes


Some of our recommended supplements are from animal sources - liver injections and capsules. We also give B12 injections. This therapy is very much tailored to the individual and depends on a whole raft of questions - what their blood is doing, their health in the past and childhood illnesses, whether they throw off colds easily, where the cancer is, why theyve got it, what job they do, where they live and whether thats near to sprayed fields, mobile masts or pylons.


With our therapy you cook slowly, with no water, or hardly any at all and the only oil we allow is flax oil. Patients who stop eating during chemo should have their juices, with peppermint and camomile teas and gruel which Gerson doctors always say saves lives - just boil up some oats, strain and drink the liquid.

Gerson Support Group (send sae) PO Box 74, Leatherhead, Surrey KT 22 7YD

Patricia Peat, Managing Director, Cancer Options.

At Cancer Options, we recommend a combination of nutritional regimes, and herbal approaches to help cope with chemotherapy. There are many natural anti-cancer compounds which can both help reduce damage to the body, and help the chemotherapy to work as well as possible. The earlier these can be started the better: we would recommend commencing a course to prepare the body for chemotherapy commencing a month beforehand.

Open quotesWe suggest Milk thistle to help the liver detoxify the chemotherapyClose quotes


Our main approach during chemotherapy would be to boost the immune system, reduce malnutrition and reduce the toxicity of the chemotherapeutic agents while enhancing their effects. This would be done on an individual basis, as there are specific properties with each chemotherapeutic agent, which can be addressed to get the best results. But looking at a general picture, we suggest Milk thistle to help the liver detoxify the chemotherapy, zinc, melatonin which protects the normal cells from chemotherapy damage, Vitamin E, Astragalus, Ascorbic acid, Co-enzyme Q10 (100 mg/bid) and PSK/PSP (1-3 g/day), which have immune enhancing effects and enhance the actions of chemotherapy while reducing side effects and Selenium 200mcgs. We also recommend fish oil, flax seed oil or crushed flax seeds depending on preference.


Also detoxification is as important as what goes in - the rapid removal of toxins from the body would be massively beneficial in reducing the side effects. If someone is on chemotherapy, its very important to get any herbal preparations checked out by a qualified practitioner, to make sure there are no interactions, with the chemotherapy. A lot of nutritional and herbal supplements are very strong, and it is dangerous to suppose that because they are natural, they can do no harm. Probably the worst person to ask about this is your oncologist. They rarely know anything about herbal medicine, and they do not have the time to review each individuals regime and go away and learn about it. If you do ask your oncologist, you will probably be told not to take anything, because they cannot recommend something they know nothing about. If they are very negative about your efforts, this is not a sign that they will be ineffective, just that your oncologist is ignorant. Allowances should be made.

Post chemotherapy, we would advocate continuation with the recommended regime for at least a month, together with immune stimulants such as echinacea, astragalus, garlic, green tea and cats claw. Immediately post chemotherapy, we would devise a detoxification programme for two to three weeks, to help the body rid itself of the toxins as quickly as possible. This would vary according to how the individual is at that particular time, and what they were able to tolerate. It is always very important to maintain a balance whereby the system is not becoming overloaded, and the individual exhausted by attempting too much at once.

Open quotesWe would advocate continuation with the recommended regime for at least a monthClose quotes


Alongside the nutritional work, much in the way of healing, and complementary therapies should be undertaken. I know from my time running chemotherapy clinics, some people feel very traumatised by what the body perceives as a serious attack on itself. I have observed many profound psychological changes take place during treatment. It is an entirely unnatural thing for the mind to allow someone to sit passively, whilst needles are inserted, and toxins pumped in. There is a constant mental struggle going on as the person has to constantly override the minds natural defence, which is to tell you to get the hell out of there!


Work to relax and reduce the mental trauma makes a massive difference, and dependant on how much is done during treatment, will influence how much is needed to be done afterwards. If someone is feeling very traumatised, it is as important to reclaim the mind and the spirit as it is the body, so some intensive work on helping the individual feel whole again is vital.

Chris Woollams Comments

In Part 2 of A Diet for Chemotherapy, I draw together these comments, and add all the very latest research in Cancer Watch, that led to my book ’The Rainbow Diet and how it can help you beat cancer’.

Open quotesThere is an amazing amount known about cancer cells and their biochemistry, and no one ever seems to use that as a starting pointClose quotes

I will say this about the above: Reading this makes me feel so very sad - there is an amazing amount known about cancer cells and their biochemistry, and no one ever seems to use that as a starting point.

The Hospitals are just trying to get food into people at all costs to avoid weight loss (cachexia). This is because dieticians are so overworked they only have time to see the 7 per cent of patients who are in trouble. However, to write a booklet aimed at the minority in such a way that the vast majority will read it too and suppose it is correct is lunacy. Do Doctors really understand that dieticians are feeding the very cells they are trying so hard to kill off??! Glucose, saturated fats, salt, madness.

Of course another important question is if you go on a cancer beating diet - should you alter it whilst you are having chemo? I can’t see much of a reason to do this. Interestingly prestigious cancer centres in the USA agree - take Memorial Sloan-Kettering which talks of creating diets to match individual needs; nutritious diets with all the vitamins and minerals to help you heal and to help tackle the cancer.

You need to be boosting your immune system constantly. Your white cells are shot to pieces and may never return, which puts the whole responsibility on killing the cancer cells onto the drug treatment. And that is simply not sustainable from the scientific evidence - it simply cannot kill every single cancer cell because they might not be susceptible to attack in the long term. They learn to protect themselves.

The fact is you need to eat foods for purpose - foods that do a job, be that killing off a certain step in the cancer process, or foods that boost your immune system and your natural killer cells.

To go to A Diet for Chemotherapy by Chris Woollams CLICK HERE.

For Chris Woollams book The Rainbow Diet - click here.

An anticancer diet for chemo patients
CancerAcitve Logo
Subscribe (Free e-Newsletter)

Join Chris'

Join Chris' NewsletterSignup today for free and be the first to get notified on new updates.