George and Julia's Vegan Underground

Benefits of Eating a Plant-Based Diet for Cancer Patients and Survivors

by Jillian Mckee

Vegetarian diets offer many benefits for anyone willing to take this major step for improved health. The American Cancer Society acknowledges a correlation between a vegetarian diet and a lower risk of certain diseases, including cancer. Some of the other benefits of becoming a practicing vegetarian include weight loss, lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels, better heart health, improved digestion and elimination of toxins. Patients who are being treated for cancer, or who have finished treatment, can greatly benefit from making this positive dietary change to prevent a future reoccurrence and for recovery purposes.

If the former Surgeon General Koop is to be believed when he claims that 70% of all Americans are dying from diseases caused by poor diets, then a vegetarian diet is definitely the answer to many future health problems. There is data that supports the theory that vegetarians enjoy better overall health with a lower incidence of cancer and heart disease. Cancer patients worried about the possibility of cancer coming back should definitely consider a vegetarian diet to keep cancer at bay. Research findings show that vegetarians live longer than meat eaters, a definite added bonus.

Particularly aggressive cancer treatments like mesothelioma treatments compromise a patient’s immune system, causing fatigue and nausea. For this reason, eating a vegetarian diet that boosts the immune system and increases energy levels aids in recovery and contributes to quality of life during a difficult period. When chemotherapy and radiation are both used for treatment, fatigue becomes an even greater problem.


One of the most talked about bonuses of giving up meat is that it detoxifies your body. Toxins such as pesticides and preservatives are almost eliminated with a plant-based diet. According to the EPA, as much as 95% of pesticide contaminants that people are exposed to come from fish, meat, and dairy products. Based on that estimation, it is easy to understand how a vegetarian diet cleanses the body. The high-fiber content of a vegetarian diet also contributes to the detoxification process of the body by moving food quickly through the body’s digestive system.

High Fiber Benefits

Constipation is a major issue for many cancer patients. One cure for this problem is eating more fruits and vegetables for a more high-fiber diet. Vegetarians enjoy the benefits of eating a high-fiber diet and experience few problems with digestion.

Improved Immune System

One major benefit of eating a plant-based diet is a stronger immune system to protect against infection. Cancer and its treatments compromise a patient’s immune system and eating a vegetarian diet can go a long way to reversing this problem. While many carnivores eat plenty of vegetables, people who are vegetarians typically eat even more vegetables and fruit than meat-eaters.

Anemia and Fatigue

Major problems with fatigue are common side effects of chemotherapy and radiation. Eating as a vegetarian is a great solution. Leafy vegetables like spinach and collard greens provide the iron necessary to eliminate anemia concerns. Fruits and vegetables are carbohydrates that provide extra energy to cancer patients who need the added boost to continue normal activities.

Cancer Prevention

One of the biggest fears that recovering cancer patients face is the possibility that their cancer will come back. Living a healthier lifestyle becomes a goal for many cancer survivors seeking to recover and avoid future problems. Studies indicate that vegetarians have lower rates of cancer. Based on this information, any recovering cancer patient can consider becoming a vegetarian for the added protection.

Weight Management

One of the great benefits of a vegetarian diet is that many people find it is easier to maintain a healthy weight level. Cancer patients seeking to minimize the odds of cancer recurrence must recognize that being overweight puts people at a higher risk for certain cancers. Weight gain is definitely the enemy for health conscious individuals who want to lower their risk of cancer and many other chronic diseases.

There are many reasons for cancer patients and survivors to seriously consider turning to a vegetarian diet. The statistics support the claim that vegetarians live longer and healthier lives with a lower incidence of many diseases. One calming fact that a recovering cancer patient can act on to increase his odds of living cancer-free, is the evidence that eating a vegetarian diet will quickly boost the immune system and provide antioxidants to prevent a reoccurrence of the disease.

Jillian McKee has worked as the Complementary Medicine Advocate at the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance since June of 2009. Jillian spends most her time on outreach efforts and spreading information about the integration of complementary and alternative medicine when used in conjunction with traditional cancer treatment.

Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance



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One thought on “Benefits of Eating a Plant-Based Diet for Cancer Patients and Survivors

  1. Pingback: A Vegetarian Diet for Cancer | Gourmet Foods For Folk's who enjoy Food!

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