Living better with cancer and the DEW approach from the American Cancer Society

Living better with cancer is an amazing challenge and is a situation which estimates say more than 12 million Americans find themselves in. As a clinical pharmacist who has helped many many patients with nutrition support, I’ve long been interested in helping people after discharge who have been diagnosed with cancer. The amazing thing is that beyond some vague and general dietary guidelines, the American Cancer society never developed diet, exercise and weight guidelines for people who have survived cancer. This all changed recently with the first US cancer guidelines. It’s about time and the guidelines can also apply to many of us. Let’s take a closer look.

Previously, cancer survivors and those living with cancer were often left to their own devices when it came to diet, exercise and weight loss. This has happily changed. The American Cancer Society (ACS) created guidelines and published them early on line (see the citation below):

Rock, C. L., Doyle, C., Demark-Wahnefried, W., Meyerhardt, J., Courneya, K. S., Schwartz, A. L., Bandera, E. V., Hamilton, K. K., Grant, B., McCullough, M., Byers, T. and Gansler, T. (2012), Nutrition and physical activity guidelines for cancer survivors. CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians. doi: 10.3322/caac.21142

In the statement by Collen Doyls, MS RD, it was noted that while there had been reports on physical activity and nutrition and the effects on cancer, this was the first time that evidence was strong enough to have the ACS create and release formal guidelines. What ACS is recommending is what I have dubbed the DEW approach:

Diet: Have a healthy diet with an emphasis on whole grains, vegetables and fruits

Exercise: as this is has been shown to be safe during cancer treatments and can help depression, balance, energy, muscle strength and may even boost the immune system.

Weight: and controlling it to reach or keep a healthy weight. There are so many benefits of weight loss and these include, better blood pressure, better control of blood sugar or diabetes, better heart health and much much more. The full guidelines can be search as www.cancer.org.

The bottom line here may be that cancer patients will be able to do more with this DEW approach. I will certainly reference these new guidelines in any updates to The Essential Guide to Prescription Drugs, 12 top Meds for 2012!

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