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Eating to Fight Cancer

Anticancer Diet

Diet for High-Risk People

A good diet can even help those with a family history of certain cancers beat the odds.

"A history of cancer in the family doesn't mean that every person in the family will get it," says Polk. "For someone at high risk, diet should be included as part of an early-detection screening plan set up by their doctor."

For the person already diagnosed with cancer, the nutrition picture is a little murkier. No single answer serves everyone.

"Body changes may be caused by the patient's response to the tumor, the side effects of treatment, certain medications, or some combination of these," says Magee. "Some dietary practices, like supplementing with flaxseed, might compete with a drug like Tamoxifen. That's why it's important to discuss diet with your oncologist."

Polk recommends that cancer patients work with a dietitian to make dietary decisions.

"When a patient gets involved in decisions like treatment and diet they feel less passive, more like they're part of their own healthcare team," she says.

Originally published Sept. 30, 2002.

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