Eating a healthy diet will protect your organs and cells from damage caused by chemotherapy, and it can even help you avoid the dreaded side effects of the drug.
But a new study suggests eating the right food can protect your body from cancer.
The study, published online Tuesday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, looked at the effects of a combination of foods and supplements on the bodies of 12,000 cancer patients who were given a combination treatment of chemotherapy and anti-cancer medications.
The researchers found that patients who ate the right combination of proteins and carbohydrates had less cancer growth and less symptoms than those who ate less of either.
“There is evidence that diet is the single most important determinant of cancer survival,” said lead author Sarah Koss of the University of Illinois at Chicago.
“It’s the single thing that you can do to increase your chances of survival.”
Koss and her colleagues looked at cancer patients from the National Institutes of Health’s cancer center, as well as patients from a number of other clinical trials.
The investigators looked at how many of each type of protein, carbohydrate and fat were eaten by patients.
They also measured how much they were able to digest.
“We found that the type of foods you eat affect how your body responds to chemotherapy,” said co-author Julie C. Schoell of the Cancer Prevention Research Institute in Seattle.
“The more you eat them, the less they have to interact with the body to create cancer.
This is a big finding.”
Researchers said that the data could help scientists understand why cancer is a risk factor for many cancers.
“The cancer-fighting properties of the foods that you eat may actually help prevent cancer,” said study author Koss.
“So the idea is, what foods you’re eating will protect you from cancer if you are eating the appropriate foods.”
The research was funded by the National Cancer Institute, the National Institute of Mental Health and the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.