Nutrition: Treating the Hallmarks of Cancer

If you could reduce risk for cancer by changing the way you eat, would you?

Around 30-40% of cancers can be prevented through proper nutrition, and most cancers are influenced by eating patterns (Bargil).  Nutrition can lower the risk of cancer, slow it’s progression, reduce mortality, and strengthen the body to support positive outcomes with conventional treatments.

As acupuncturists, we already know that food is much more than calories.  Food has energetics, flavors, temperatures, and actions in the body.  Food is information that we give to our bodies, and to which our genes react and express.  Healthy eating can suppress pro-cancer genes, while eating fried foods and sugar can encourage them.

Nutrition is just one of many things we can do to cultivate a strong and resilient body where cancer cannot flourish.  Lifestyle choices in general can change gene expression; things like adequate sleep and rest, exercise, meditation and stress control are all positive influencers on gene expression.  

In the course, Targeting the Hallmarks of Cancer with Nutrition, Dr. Sharon Bar-Gil ND explains gene instability and the role that chronic inflammation plays in cancer initiation and progression.  Chronic inflammation is the 2nd most important cancer enabling mechanism, and is associated with unfavorable clinical outcomes. 

Decreasing inflammation can increase the death of cancer cells and improve response to treatment.  Even a partial reduction in inflammation can be protective, so any positive changes help. 

Dr. Bar-Gil eloquently explains what an anti-inflammatory diet consists of, and which foods enhance DNA repair.  You will learn which foods contain cancer fighting phytochemicals, and whether or not it is helpful to take supplements.

Fundamentally, you will leave this course understanding the research behind nutrition in the context of cancer care, what comprises a healthy diet, and how you can relay that to your patient in a realistic way.  

It’s not only about conveying healthy eating habits to your patients, but also about finding the way to integrate it into their lives.  If strict meal preparation causes severe stress for a person, then it is probably not the best way to achieve the goal.  Nutrition is an important component of treatment but must be kept in perspective of the overall picture.  Patients shouldn’t be losing sleep over cooking a meal. 

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