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The Significance of Nutrition for Cancer Prevention

Updated: Jul 31, 2023

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Nutrition is the foundation for health and a crucial component in cancer prevention.

First, emerging evidence indicates that cancer is primarily a metabolic disease involving disturbances in energy production through respiration and fermentation, causing disturbances in cellular energy metabolism. This leads to a series of downstream phenomena, such as abnormalities in the structure and function of the mitochondria, genomic instability in tumor cells, and all other hallmarks of cancer. Recent research has shown that cancer growth and progression can be prevented by following a whole-body transition from fermentable metabolites, primarily glucose, and glutamine, to respiratory metabolites, primarily ketone bodies (Seyfried et al., 2014).

Without discussing nutrition, it’s impossible to discuss glucose, glutamine, and ketones. Glucose, one of the primary macronutrients, is a primary fuel source for the growth and survival of cancer cells. Glutamine, one of the amino acids, plays a crucial role in our immune, digestive, and brain functions. However, it’s considered the secondary fuel source for cancer cells. This naturally makes strategies for maintaining blood glucose homeostasis and balanced dietary glutamine intake much more critical in cancer prevention and management.

Second, the mounting evidence links a wide variety of chronic inflammatory conditions to diverse types of cancers, providing firm evidence for the role of chronic inflammation as an important event in cancer pathogenesis. It can even be another hallmark of cancer. Evidence implicates a growing number of key molecular and cellular pathways mediating cancers in a chronic inflammatory setting and mitochondrial as a central regulator in inflammation-associated cancer. Even though there hasn’t been enough evidence to prove a causal relationship between inflammation and cancer, strategies aimed at enhancing mitochondrial DNA integrity and increasing mitochondrial antioxidant defenses may prove beneficial in reducing malignant transformation and host mutations (David W. Kamp, 2011a). I can confidently say that this can be achieved through a diet focused on adopting a nutrient-dense, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant-rich diet.

I look forward to seeing more research and studies on the benefits and mechanisms of applying ketogenic nutrition and nutritional genomics in cancer prevention and cancer progression management. The upcoming discoveries of these cutting-edge nutrition sciences may provide more and more insight into cancer research.

Jenny Noland, MS, CNS, CNGS, CKNS, LDN, MBA

Functional Nutritionist in Eugene, Oregon

Board-Certified Nutrition Specialist

Board-Certified Nutritional Genomics Specialist

Board-Certified Ketogenic Nutrition Specialist

Certified Oncology Nutrition Specialist

Personalized Nutrition Therapy for Metabolic Dysfunction and Cancer Care

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David W. Kamp, M. S. P. A. W. M. (2011a). Chronic Inflammation and Cancer: The Role of the Mitochondria. Oncology, 25(5).

David W. Kamp, M. S. P. A. W. M. (2011b). Chronic Inflammation and Cancer: The Role of the Mitochondria. Oncology, 25(5).

Seyfried, T. N., Flores, R. E., Poff, A. M., & D’Agostino, D. P. (2014). Cancer as a metabolic disease: implications for novel therapeutics. Carcinogenesis, 35(3), 515.


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