The Role of Nutrition in Cancer Prevention and During Cancer Treatment in Children

The Role of Nutrition in Cancer Prevention and During Cancer Treatment in Children

Many people overlook the impact that a good diet has on preventing cancer and reducing risks when undergoing cancer treatment. In today’s world, there are countless health risks associated with the types of food that people consume every day. It is for this reason that a healthy diet needs more attention.

Children are picky eaters in general and have a tendency to prefer taste over nutrition. As a parent, it is your duty to ensure that your child has access to a balanced diet filled with the right food choices to lower the risk of cancer and/or make cancer treatment safer.

Can Nutrition Help Lower the Risk of Cancer in Children?

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It is surprising to many people when they realize how effective good nutrition can be in lowering the risk of cancer. While this is true at any age, its importance is even more relevant for children who make it a habit of avoiding foods rich in anti-cancer properties.

Antioxidants in the form of vitamin C, Beta-Carotene, and Lycopene are all great at countering the harmful effects of free radicals. You also have phytochemicals like Ellagic Acid, Allicin, and Sulforaphane that do an amazing job at blocking carcinogens, balancing hormone levels, and improving the immune system.

Proper fiber levels are also important for lowering cholesterol levels and keeping blood sugar levels in check. All these benefits are most commonly seen in plant-rich diets.

There is a reason why “green leafy” and “colorful vegetables’ are the most common phrases used by doctors across the world when it comes to recommending foods that lower the risk of cancers. (They also lower the risk of many other medical conditions.)

What Foods Are Recommended By Doctors?

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You can probably guess the sort of food choices that are known for anti-cancer properties. Researchers and doctors recommend that plant-based foods should account for two-thirds of a meal, with animal protein making up one-third. This composition comes straight from the American Institute for Cancer Research.

 Some examples of food items known for their anti-cancer properties are:
Colorful Vegetables

  1. Asparagus
  2. Tomatoes
  3. Tea (Particularly Green Tea)
  4. Turmeric

Reputed hospitals like have also put out information in the past about how children need to develop healthy habits (in relation to diet) to lower cancer risk later in life.

St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital is known for its intensive research activities and has an experienced team in the Clinical Nutrition department who are responsible for working with patients to ensure proper nutrition.

Why is this important?

It is important because proper nutrition allows patients to be able to better handle cancer treatments that are not always easy on the body, and this is especially true for young children.

What Foods Should Be Avoided?

Just as there are a number of benefits that some foods can provide, there are also a number of harmful side effects that can be caused by some other options. These are, ironically, mostly man-made. Processed foods, artificial sweeteners, and chemicals are notoriously bad for health and should be avoided due to the increased risk of cancer that they pose.

Some examples of food items to avoid in order to reduce the risk of cancer and to stay away from when undergoing cancer treatment include.

  1. Red Meat
  2. Heavily Processed Food
  3. Alcohol
  4. Breakfast Cereal / Mass-produced bread
  5. Fast food

Why is Proper Nutrition Important for Children During Cancer Treatment?

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Proper nutrition goes beyond merely helping prevent cancer. It also plays a critical role in ensuring that cancer patients can continue receiving treatment in a safe manner. This is because some types of cancer treatments affect weight gain, which can lead to health complications.

For instance, chemotherapy and radiation therapy are known to cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and constipation. These side effects make people lose their appetite, and when this occurs on a consistent basis, significant weight loss can occur. This can, in extreme cases, lead to malnourishment.

Similarly, there are some cancer treatments that cause increased appetite, especially when steroids are involved. This is often the case with the treatment of certain types of Breast and Blood cancer.

Increased appetite obviously leads to weight gain, which is sometimes to the point of obesity, and the link between obesity and cancer is well-documented.


It is common knowledge that a balanced diet is important for health, but the extent to which it can help or hinder is not fully understood by many. Processed foods and alcohol have become a part of our daily eating habits. It is difficult to suddenly switch to healthier alternatives, and our children develop bad eating habits as well.

Paying careful attention to what children eat needs to be a high priority when it comes to lowering the risk of cancer. Encouraging healthy eating habits by introducing tasty recipes that use green, leafy vegetables can help increase their appetite for these essential health foods.


I am a pop culture and social media expert. Aside from writing about the latest news health, I also enjoy pop culture and Yoga. I have BA in American Cultural Studies and currently enrolled in a Mass-Media MA program. I like to spend my spring breaks volunteering overseas.

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