The Truth Behind Food and Cancer: Simple Explanations Based on Scientific Evidence


  • Clodagh Scannell School of Food and Nutritional Sciences, University College Cork



Cancer, Diet, Nutrition, Complementary and Alternative Medicine


Background: Specialist oncology dietetic care is lacking in Ireland. This results in knowledge gaps that are filled by unreliable information from unqualified outlets such as the media and alternative-health providers, who promote complementary/alternative medicine (CAM). The aim of this resource is to provide cancer survivors with up-to-date, evidence-based information on cancer and nutrition

Methods: Common myths about nutrition and cancer and the most popular CAM used by Irish cancer survivors were included1.  National cancer organisations were also reviewed. To ensure readability, content was written according to the National Adult Literacy Agency recommendations, and peer-reviewed by other dietitians. Patient feedback was sought from patient advocates. Funding was secured from Breakthrough Cancer Research to print 20,000 copies for free distribution.

Results: The Truth Behind Food and Cancer: Simple Explanations based on Scientific Evidence’ is a coloured printed resource written by dietitians. It discussed popular diet-based CAM and food-avoidance patterns practiced by patients with cancer and provides an evidence-based response to myths and unproven dietary strategies.

Conclusion: Following a restrictive dietary strategy can place vulnerable cancer patients at an even greater risk of malnutrition and its debilitating effects. Research shows that a significant number of cancer survivors turn to unproven dietary strategies in the absence of dietetic care or reliable resources.


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