Mouth Cancer Treatment Diet

Research continues to tie poor diet to many different diseases, including mouth cancer. In fact, claims by the National Cancer Institute state that at least one-third or more of cancer-related deaths are the result of improper food choices. A healthy diet plays a role in controlling obesity, which is a major factor in some illnesses. However, the ingredients found in some foods go much deeper than that.

Many nutrients, chemicals and compounds affect cell growth at the most basic levels in our bodies. Including cancer-fighting agents in your diet could very well prevent many conditions. If you have been diagnosed with mouth cancer, it’s also possible that some foods may even help fight this disease.

How Ingredients in Foods Fight Mouth Cancers

Research continues on a host of foods and ingredients that may help prevent or cause mouth cancer.

The body is under constant bombardment from “free radicals,” molecules that can damage cell structure. These come from many sources including the sun, pollution, chemicals and smoking.

Antioxidants provide protection from free radicals, according to research. Many experts believe these properties affect DNA structuring by preventing mutations and even making repairs to damaged cells.

  • Beta carotene is an antioxidant believed to help the body’s immune responses. It’s also the property responsible for coloration in certain vegetables. Once consumed, it becomes vitamin A, responding to destroy cancerous cells.
  • Bioflavenoids are also under intensive study for their cancer-fighting properties. Known as “taste” compounds, they’re found in many foods, including onions and apples. They may play an important role in reducing risks of developing cancer. Catechins, prevalent in teas, receive high marks as flavenoids for their antioxidant properties.
  • Lycopene is receiving great attention for its ability to attack and eliminate free radicals. Some studies show that lycopene may have a direct impact on mouth cancer cell development.
  • Phytochemicals are compounds that act as natural protection in plants. Consumption of fruits and vegetables may certainly transfer some of these characteristics to the human system.
  • Selenium is a mineral that may be beneficial, especially when paired with vitamin E. It appears to prevent attacks on cells by shielding from free radicals.

At the very least, foods that contain these properties are part of a recommended healthy diet. However, experts agree that balance is especially critical in a cancer diet. Many beneficial ingredients could potentially cause harm if ingested in larger than suggested quantities.

Diet Tips for Preventing Mouth Cancer

In general, five or more servings per day of vegetables and fruits can impact the body’s ability to fight cancer. Some foods, in particular, show promise in this area and should be included in any mouth cancer diet:

  • Carrots: Excellent source of beta carotene, along with another possible mouth-cancer fighting substance known as falcarinol. Raw carrots are best.
  • Green tea: High in catechins, which are powerful antioxidants. Newer studies show that black tea, white tea and Oolong tea also contain useful levels of catechins. Tea receives high marks as a mouth cancer preventative and may be effective against other diseases, including Hodgkin’s and melanomas.
  • Raspberries: Loaded with a host of nutrients and compounds that may be particularly important in fighting tumors. Studies reflect that these berries are higher in antioxidants than strawberries and blueberries.
  • Tomatoes: High in lycopene, especially when processed or cooked. Canned tomatoes, ketchup and prepared sauces are excellent sources. For those who cannot consume acidic foods, particularly during mouth cancer treatment, watermelon is also an excellent source of lycopene.

Diet Can Help During Mouth Cancer Treatment

When undergoing treatment for mouth cancer, it’s important to discuss diet with your medical team. They can devise a proper plan that will keep you healthy both during and after treatment.

Radiation and chemotherapy, especially, can affect other parts of the body while treating your mouth cancer. Cancer-fighting foods that contribute to cell growth and provide protection may also help you recover faster from side effects.

Malnutrition is a prime concern, so it’s important to consume plenty of fruits and vegetables, along with a higher caloric intake. It’s difficult to maintain a balanced diet during this time, but essential to your health and well-being. Protein drinks and powders can provide a boost when you need to increase energy levels and calorie intake.

Ingredients that May Contribute to Cancer

Some foods and beverages may also contribute to the development of cancers. They can affect the mouth and other parts of the body in various ways by causing weight gain.

Some also have negative influences on organs and arteries. These ingredients may also cause abnormal cellular growth or inhibit antioxidant action:

  • alcohol in excessive amounts
  • red meat, especially fatty and processed products
  • saturated fats
  • sugar (a direct effect on insulin could potentially create a relation to some cancers, and sugar consumption often contributes to obesity, with known ties to cancer-related issues)
  • tobacco in any form, especially chewing tobacco.

Resources

Cancer.org (2007). Common Questions About Diet and Cancer. Retrieved August 14, 2007, from the American Cancer Society, Inc. Web site: http://www.cancer.org/docroot/PED/content/PED_3_2X_Common_Questions_About_Diet_and_Cancer.asp?sitearea=PED.

Cancure.org (nd). Cancer Fighting Foods/Spices. Retrieved August 14, 2007, from The Cure Research Foundation Web site: http://www.cancure.org/cancer_fighting_foods.htm.

Oralcancerfoundation.org (2001-2007). Nutrition and Cancer. Retrieved August 14, 2007, from the Oral Cancer Foundation Web site: http://www.oralcancerfoundation.org/facts/nutrition.htm.