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Cancer Health Center

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New Guidelines for Cancer Survivors

American Cancer Society Updates Its Diet and Exercise Guidelines
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Nov. 29, 2006 -- There are more than 10 million cancer survivors in the U.S., and the American Cancer Society (ACS) has new diet and exercise guidelines for them.

The guidelines appear in the November/December issue of CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians.

The ACS doesn't claim to have nailed down all the facts on nutrition and physical activity for cancer survivors.

But "reasonable conclusions can be made on several issues," write the researchers.

They included Colleen Doyle, MS, RD, director of nutrition and physical activity for the ACS.

Among the recommendations:

  • Strive for a healthy weight. If you're overweight, go for modest weight loss (up to 2 pounds weekly) with a doctor's supervision.

  • Limit fat to 20% to 35% of calories. Keep saturated fat to less than 10% of calories and trans fat to less than 3% of calories.

  • Include foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as fish and walnuts.

  • Go for lean proteins such as fish, lean meat and poultry, nuts, seeds, eggs, low-fat dairy products, and legumes.

  • Include healthy carbohydrates such as vegetables, fruit, whole grains, and legumes.

  • Weigh alcohol's risks and benefits. Modest drinking may be heart-healthy, but it may also raise the risk of some cancers (including breast and colon cancer), so consult your doctor.

  • Don't overdo vitamins. A daily multivitamin supplement that meets 100% of the Daily Value may help if you can't eat a normal diet. But talk to your doctor before taking any supplements.

  • Make regular physical activity a goal. Ask for help, if you need it, from a physical therapist or trainer. Get your doctor's OK first, especially if you've been inactive.

  • Don't overdo exercise. Very high levels of exercise may increase infection risk.

  • Keep soy intake moderate if you've had breast cancer. Up to three daily servings of soy foods, such as tofu and soy milk, may be OK, but it may be prudent to avoid high doses of soy in soy powders and supplements.

  • Practice food safety. Wash your hands before you eat, cook and store foods properly, and use special care when handling raw meat, fish, poultry, and eggs.

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