Fruits for Lung Cancer Patients is a fact-based article about fruits that you should include in your diet if you are a cancer patient who suffers from lung cancer. As lung cancer survivors, the question which arises often is whether the fruit is safe for us to eat or not. The question leads to a logical conclusion that if fruits are deemed damaging for us in any way, then how long can we survive.
Fruits to Eat When You Have Cancer
You already know that a diet rich in fruits and vegetables is good for you. But when you’re going through cancer treatment or trying to keep cancer from coming back, some fruits may be better than others.
The research on fruits and cancer isn’t perfect. There aren’t many studies, and the results are often inconsistent. No food, and certainly no one fruit, can prevent or fight cancer.
Still, certain types of fruits may have cancer-fighting qualities. Others can make it easier for you to cope with the side effects of treatments.
Fruit During Cancer Treatment
Fruit provides nutrients that you need during cancer treatment. Some fruits may also help ease discomfort. Experts recommend these, depending on how you feel:
- For nausea and vomiting: canned fruit, applesauce, peaches, and other soft fruit
- For constipation: raw fruits, dried fruits, prune juice
- For diarrhea: fruit juices, bananas, and apples as part of the BRAT (bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast) diet
- For loss of appetite: high-calorie foods, including dried fruit and fruit smoothies
- For mouth sores: nectars, apple juice, canned fruit, applesauce
Citrus fruit, like grapefruits and oranges, may have a role in preventing certain cancers. One large study in Japan found that people who had citrus fruits or juices 3-4 days a week were less likely to get cancer than those who had them 2 or fewer days a week.
Though the research results aren’t clear-cut, they show that citrus might help fend off several types of cancer:
- Cancers of the digestive tract, like colon cancer
- Cancers of the respiratory tract, like lung cancer
- Pancreatic cancer
- Prostate cancer
- Breast cancer
- Nasopharyngeal cancer, a type of head and neck cancer
- Cutaneous melanoma, a type of skin cancer
Apples and Other ‘White’ Fruit
At least one meta-analysis — a study that looks at lots of previous research on a subject — linked apples with a reduced risk for cancer. The link seems strongest for lung cancer. But apples may also help protect against:
- Breast cancer
- Colorectal cancer
- Other cancers of the digestive tract
Another study found that eating white vegetables and fruits, like apples, pears, mushrooms, and onions, may help protect against colorectal cancer. (Apples and pears are considered white because of their flesh.)
The possible benefit from apples probably comes from two substances they contain: polysaccharides, a type of carbohydrate, and quercetin, a plant pigment. Both may help fight cancer cells.
Green fruits may help protect against colorectal cancer, according to the same study that looked at white fruits and veggies. Green fruits include:
- Honeydew melon
- Green grapes
Other research also suggests kiwifruit may help prevent cancer. That’s partly because of the fruit’s antioxidants, and partly because kiwifruit promotes a healthy gut.
Dried fruit like prunes and raisins can be a healthy choice. Research shows that regularly eating dried fruit may help ward off some types of cancer. It might also help keep cancer from getting worse.
Eating three to five servings of dried fruits a week may help prevent:
- Colorectal polyps, growths in your large intestine that aren’t cancerous but could eventually turn into cancer
- Prostate cancer
- Death from pancreatic cancer
- Stomach cancer
Lung Cancer Fighting Foods
Phytochemicals That Affect Cancer Cells
You’ve probably heard quite a bit about the foods that may lower your risk of developing a cancer such as lung cancer. But what if you are already living with the disease? What should you eat to raise the odds in your favor?
It can be confusing to think about how food can fight cancer, even to scientists.
Part of the reason is that there are many different ways in which this can occur, and there are many processes within each of these mechanisms that may be affected by what we eat.
- Cell metabolism: Components in certain foods we eat may play a role in the day to day functioning of cancer cells.
- Cell cycle control: Cancer cells go through many different phases in the process of dividing. Compounds in certain foods may inhibit some of these steps.
- Inflammation: Inflammation can play a role not only in the development of cancer but in growth. We are learning that the “microenvironment” surrounding cancer cells may play a role in whether a cancer progresses or not. Some foods have anti-inflammatory properties which could change this process.
- Angiogenesis: As mentioned earlier, tumors need to grow new blood vessels to grow and expand. Some nutrients interfere with the ability of cancer cells to grow these blood vessels.
- Metastasis: There are molecular pathways that direct the ability of cancer cells to leave their original site and travel to other regions of the body. Some nutrients may interfere with steps in these signaling pathways.
- Apoptosis: When cells in our bodies become damaged or age, there is a process in our immune system which eliminates these cells. Cancer cells, however, have “figured out” how to avoid apoptosis. Some nutrients may give the body a needed boost in order to eliminate these abnormal (cancer) cells.
In a recent study looking at non-small cell lung cancer cells grown in the lab, phloretin, which is found in pears and apples, markedly induced programmed cell death (apoptosis) in these cancer cells. The researchers felt that phloretin may someday be used as an adjunct in the treatment of non-small cell lung cancer.
Phloretin not only played the above role with lung cancer cells but in another study also enhanced the anticancer effect of cisplatin, a common chemotherapy drug used for people with lung cancer. In addition to its possible effect on cancer, phloretin may reduce fibrosis in the lungs, such as that commonly associated with radiation therapy.
Pears (as well as apples) contain a phytochemical called phloretin that is thought to have anti-tumor activities.
Green tea is another food that appears to do double duty when it comes to lung cancer.
Not only has green tea been found to have a preventive role in the development of lung cancer, but may be of benefit to those already living with the disease.
While studies on humans have yet to be done, researchers have looked at its effects on both human lung cancer cells grown in the lab, and in animals. Compounds including theaflavin and epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG) were found to potentiate the effect of the chemotherapy drug cisplatin which is often used to treat lung cancer. In one part of the study, the effectiveness of cisplatin in eliminating cancer cells was increased by a factor of seven.
Keep in mind that most green tea does have caffeine. If you are sensitive to caffeine or it keeps you awake, you may want to find a caffeine-free variety or concentrate on other items on this list. Also keep in mind that the bottled green tea you find at the store may not be the best choice. Compounds such as ECGC don’t last, and the amount found in most soft drinks is very low.
On a last note, you may want to skip the creamer, as dairy products can combine with and neutralize ECGC. Consider adding a touch of lemon instead, which enhances the absorption of this compound.
Vitamin D has received a lot of attention in recent years, and a diet high in vitamin D may have some benefit for people with lung cancer as well.
Researchers observed non-small cell lung cancer cells containing an EGFR mutation, to see what effect vitamin D3 may have. The cells were treated with 25-hydroxyvitamin D3—the breakdown product of the vitamin which circulates in the blood. It was found that in this setting vitamin D3 inhibited the growth of lung cancer cells.
Vitamin D which is found in fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, and herring appears to have other health benefits as well and a deficiency in vitamin D can lead to many medical problems. In addition to dietary sources, vitamin D can be absorbed outside from the sun, but sunscreen interferes with this process. Given its role in cancer, and how easy it is to know your level with a simple blood test, talk to your oncologist about having this tested.
Of all the vitamins and minerals in our diets, vitamin D may be the hardest to get in dietary form. Being outside in the sun in shorts and a T-shirt for 15 minutes, however, delivers a very healthy daily dose. That’s not always possible in Northern climates (or for other reasons, such as chemotherapy drugs which raise the risk of a sunburn).
If your level of Vitamin D is low, your oncologist can talk about the best supplement to improve your level.
Ginger may help with chemotherapy-induced nausea, but it may play an even bigger role for people living with lung cancer.
Ginger contains a compound 6-shogaol that may help prevent the development of lung cancer, but through its actions on the pathways that help cancer to spread, may lower the risk of metastases from a cancer already present. Evidence of the benefits of ginger were noted in treating lung cancer cells in the lab, and It was also found that dietary ginger intake reduced the risk of lung cancer metastases in mice with lung cancer. Since metastases are the leading cause of death for people with cancer, this is an important finding.
Ginger is thought to have other health benefits as well, particularly in helping people with chronic pain.
Some people think of capers as pea shaped pickles, but these tiny flower buds—native to the Mediterranean and some parts of Asia—have much more to offer.
Capers are one of the highest known sources of a compound called quercetin, which is a powerful antioxidant that appears to inhibit the growth of several cancers, especially cancers of the lung, brain, blood, and salivary gland.
Quercetin inhibits a signaling pathway in lung cancer cells that is necessary for the cells to divide and multiple Earlier studies found that in addition to inhibiting cancer cell growth, quercetin also plays a role in programmed cell death (apoptosis) of cancer cells.
Other foods rich in quercetin include dill weed, red onions, blueberries, apples, and green and black tea.
Turmeric, an essential ingredient in curry among other foods, contains the compound curcumin. Turmeric is the spice that gives curry the yellow color. Curcumin has been found in several studies to inhibit the invasive ability of lung cancer cells.
Curcumin has been looked at for some time with cancer, as it appears to have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and immune stimulatory effects in addition to facilitating cell death (apoptosis) in cancer cells.
The American Cancer Society has stated that lab and animal tests on turmeric look very promising, but is hesitant to recommend this spice for prevention or treatment.
For those who are currently undergoing treatment for cancer, the news is good as well. Curcumin may work to make tumors more sensitive to the effects of treatment with chemotherapy and radiation therapy, especially with medications such as the common lung cancer chemotherapy drug cisplatin.
In addition to cancer prevention and treatment, turmeric is being studied for its role in a wide variety of health conditions, even its potential role in Alzheimer’s disease.
Until that time, and since we are discussing dietary sources alone, it probably can’t hurt to add a few foods containing this colorful spice to your diet. It’s very important to note that relatively large quantities of curcumin supplements need to be taken in order to be absorbed. Three studies showed that at 1.8 grams of curcumin per day as a supplement, curcumin has very poor availability and is undetected in the blood of patients that receive it. On the other hand, when cooked as curry, curcumin has a better availability and is better absorbed.
Berries such as blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, and cranberries are loaded with compounds known as anthocyanidins. One form of anthocyanidin known as delphinidin made a significant difference for mice inoculated with EGFR mutated human lung cancer cells. (If you are not familiar with EFGR or have not had molecular profiling done on your lung cancer, make sure to talk to your healthcare provider.)
Dietary delphinidin inhibited the growth of the tumors, limited the ability of the tumors to create new blood vessels in order to expand (something known as angiogenesis) and induced cell death (apoptosis) among the cancer cells.
An added benefit are studies finding that anthocyanidins may help prevent the formation of blood clots (thrombosis). Considering that 3% to 15% of people with lung cancer develop blood clots and that this is associated with an increased rate of death from the disease, berries may help in more ways than one.
12 Beneficial Fruits to Eat During and After Cancer Treatment
It’s no secret that your diet can affect your risk of developing cancer.
Similarly, filling up on healthy foods is important if you are being treated for or recovering from cancer.
Certain foods, including fruits, contain health-promoting compounds that may slow tumor growth and reduce certain side effects of treatment to help ease your road to recovery.
Here are the 12 best fruits to eat during and after cancer treatment.
Fruit choices for those with cancer
When being treated for or recovering from cancer, your food choices are incredibly important.
Cancer treatments like chemotherapy and radiation can cause many side effects, which can be either worsened or improved by what you eat and drink.
Common side effects of chemotherapy and radiation include
- changes in appetite
- painful swallowing
- dry mouth
- mouth sores
- impaired focus
- mood changes
Filling your diet with nutritious foods, including fruits, helps supply your body with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants throughout your cancer treatment.
However, it’s important to tailor your fruit choices to your specific symptoms.
For example, puréed fruits or fruit smoothies are a good option if you have difficulty swallowing, while fruits rich in fiber can help promote regularity if you are experiencing constipation.
You may also want to avoid certain fruits based on your symptoms. For example, citrus fruits may irritate mouth sores and worsen the feeling of dry mouth.
Lastly, whole fruits like apples, apricots, and pears are hard for some people with cancer to eat due to mouth sores, difficulty swallowing, dry mouth, or nausea.
Some foods can either worsen or improve certain side effects of cancer treatments. It’s best to tailor your fruit choices to your specific symptoms.
Blueberries are a nutritional powerhouse, packing plenty of fiber, vitamin C, and manganese into each serving
They’re also rich in antioxidants and have been well studied for their cancer-fighting effects
Blueberries may also help alleviate chemo brain, a term used to describe problems with memory and concentration that some people experience during cancer treatment and recovery.
One small study found that drinking blueberry juice daily for 12 weeks improved memory and learning in older adults
Similarly, a recent review of 11 studies reported that blueberries improved several aspects of brain function in children and adults
While these studies did not include people undergoing cancer treatment, the findings may still apply.
Blueberries may help fight cancer growth and improve chemo brain, a term used to describe impairments in memory and concentration due to cancer treatment.
Oranges are a common type of citrus fruit, favored for their sweet taste, vibrant color, and stellar nutrient profile.
Just one medium orange can meet and exceed your daily needs for vitamin C, all while supplying other important nutrients like thiamine, folate, and potassium
Vitamin C plays a key role in immunity and can help strengthen your immune system during and after cancer treatment
Research suggests that vitamin C may reduce the growth and spread of cancer cells and act as a therapeutic against certain types of cancer
Vitamin C from oranges can also boost the absorption of iron from foods. This helps protect against anemia, a common side effect of chemotherapy
Oranges are a great source of vitamin C, which can help strengthen your immune function, reduce cancer cell growth, and increase iron absorption.
Bananas can be a great dietary addition for those recovering from cancer.
They’re not only easy to tolerate for those with swallowing difficulties but also a good source of many important nutrients, including vitamin B6, manganese, and vitamin C
Additionally, bananas contain a type of fiber called pectin, which can be especially beneficial for those experiencing diarrhea caused by cancer treatments
Because bananas are rich in potassium, they can also help replenish electrolytes lost through diarrhea or vomiting.
Furthermore, test-tube studies have observed that pectin may help protect against the growth and development of colon cancer cells
That said, more research is needed to determine whether the pectin found in bananas could slow cancer cell growth in humans.
Bananas contain pectin, which can reduce diarrhea and has been shown to protect against colon cancer in test-tube studies.
Grapefruit is a nutritious fruit loaded with antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals.
In addition to providing a hearty dose of vitamin C, provitamin A, and potassium, it’s rich in beneficial compounds like lycopene
Lycopene is a carotenoid with potent anticancer properties. Some research suggests that it may reduce certain negative side effects of cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy and radiation
One study in 24 adults found that drinking 17 ounces (500 ml) of juice from citrus fruits, including grapefruit, increased blood flow to the brain, which could help mitigate chemo brain
Keep in mind that grapefruit might interfere with certain medications, so it’s best to talk to your doctor before adding it to your diet
Grapefruit is rich in antioxidants like lycopene, which has anticancer properties and may reduce some side effects of cancer treatments. It has also been shown to increase blood flow to the brain, which may ease chemo brain.
Apples are not only one of the most popular fruits but also one of the most nutritious.
Each serving is rich in fiber, potassium, and vitamin C — all of which can benefit cancer recovery
The fiber found in apples can promote regularity and keep things moving through your digestive tract.
Potassium affects your fluid balance and can help prevent fluid retention, a common side effect of some types of chemotherapy
Lastly, vitamin C acts as an antioxidant to support immune function and fight cancer cell growth
Apples are high in fiber, potassium, and vitamin C. Hence, they can help promote regularity, reduce fluid retention, and support immune health.
Known for their sour taste and signature citrus scent, lemons deliver a burst of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants in every serving.
They’re especially high in vitamin C, but also contain some potassium, iron, and vitamin B6
Test-tube studies have found that lemon extract may help prevent the growth of several types of cancer cells
Some animal studies also show that certain compounds in lemons, including limonene, could boost your mood and fight stress to combat depression and anxiety
While more research is needed to confirm these findings in humans, enjoying lemons in your favorite drinks and desserts as part of a healthy diet could be beneficial.
Lemons have been shown to inhibit the growth of cancer cells in test-tube studies. They also contain compounds that may boost your mood and reduce your stress levels