A Dietitian's Cancer Story Newsletter: Fall 2002

Greetings from Diana Dyer, MS, RD, author of A Dietitian's Cancer Story: Fall 2002

This newsletter is coming to you in late fall. Here in the upper Midwest, gardening season is mostly done. However, as we approach the busy holiday seasons, I hope you will take some time for the garden of your daily living to cultivate and nurture your soul.

THE GARDEN (author unknown)


1. Peace of mind
2. Peace of heart
3. Peace of soul

1. Squash gossip
2. Squash indifference
3. Squash grumbling
4. Squash selfishness

1. Lettuce be faithful
2. Lettuce be kind
3. Lettuce be patient
4. Lettuce really love one another

1. Turnip for meetings
2. Turnip for service
3. Turnip to help one another

1. Thyme for each other
2. Thyme for family
3. Thyme for friends



I.   New Books
     A. Crossing Divides: A Couple’s Story of Cancer, Hope, and Hiking Montana’s
         Continental Divide
     B. Decide! How to Make any Decision
     C. Dietary Options for Cancer Survivors

II.   Free Stuff
      A. Cancer Resource Guides for breast, prostate, lung and colon cancer
      B. NCI’s new publications for cancer survivors
      C. Cancer Survivor’s Toolbox ™
III.  Thanksgiving Recipes
IV. Research Updates
      A. Tea polyphenol content
      B. Cooking tomatoes increases cancer-fighting power!
      C. Mega-dose vitamins and minerals for breast cancer treatment
V. Upcoming Conference - Free Radicals: The Pros and Cons of Antioxidants
VI. Book Ordering Info
VII. Removal Instructions


I - New Books of Interest to Cancer Survivors:

(A) Crossing Divides: A Couple’s Story of Cancer, Hope, and Hiking Montana’s Continental Divide by Scott Bischke; Publisher: American Cancer Society;
ISBN 0944235395; (© April 2002)

I meet inspirational people everywhere I travel (I do not have a corner on that market!). I have not yet had the honor of meeting Katie Gibson and her husband Scott Bischke. However, I recently met friends of theirs in Montana who told me about the book Crossing Divides, that Katie with her husband, Scott Bischke, wrote about their cancer journey together. I laughed and I cried with this young couple as they shared their story of shock at Katie’s cancer diagnosis, their teamwork effort toward Katie’s recovery, and their additional prolonged and difficult but successful, journey along Montana’s beautiful Continental Divide. Every cancer patient should read this book for an understanding of the power that comes with “active hope”. What a triumph!
(Available in bookstores and on Amazon.com)

(B) Decide! How to Make any Decisions by Karen Okulicz: Publisher: K-Slaw, Inc. ISBN 09644260-1-3 (© 2002)

Don’t be fooled by the simple cover! This book provides considerable substance and useful guidance for getting off the dime for those decisions looming over you. Whether you are in a quandary about what computer to buy or the bigger and more important question of “what to do with my life after cancer”, this book will help you find a path to your desires using both humor and straight talk. (Available for purchase from Amazon.com and the author’s web site: http://www.okulicz.com/)

(C) Dietary Options for Cancer Survivors, edited by the American Institute for Cancer Research, Publisher AICR, Washington, DC, ISBN 0-9722522-0-7, ©2002.

The subtitle of this book, “A guide to research on foods, food substances, herbals, and dietary regimens that may influence cancer” gives a very good overview of its content.
The chapters group together various diet related interventions that might be of interest to cancer survivors. Each list contains a summary of the scientific evidence concerning the effectiveness of a substance or diet in impeding the progressions of cancer and the development of secondary tumors or recurrence. Each chapter is also completely referenced those who would like to do further reading.

The book has tried to be as complete as possible up to the date of publishing. While the book is not organized by cancer type, the book is indexed so that someone interested in breast cancer, for example, can find the information contained in each chapter that pertains to that particular diagnosis.

No specific recommendations are made except to advise patients undergoing chemotherapy or radiation therapy to discontinue use of dietary supplements with antioxidant properties for several weeks prior to and during their conventional therapies (unless advised otherwise by their own physician). A strong point of this book is its overview of the strengths of various types of research studies to help guide patients making their own informed decisions about dietary changes and/or supplements after a cancer diagnosis. (Available from Amazon.com and AICR at http://www.aicr.org)


II – Free Stuff of Interest to Cancer Survivors

(A) The American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) has CancerResource reports for patients with breast, prostate, colon and lung cancer diagnoses. These extensive resources, which help newly diagnosed patients and their families understand more about their cancer, its treatment and the resources available to help them over this illness, are available on-line at http://www.aicr.org/resource.html or by calling 1-800-843-8114.

(B) NCI’s Office of Education and Special Initiatives and Office of Cancer Survivorship have developed a new series of publications for cancer survivors, their families and friends and health professionals. The Facing Forward Survivor Series offers scientific information from health professionals and coping tips from cancer survivors to help them face the challenges of life after treatment.

New books now available in the Series include:
--Life After Cancer Treatment, a comprehensive guide for survivors facing post-treatment issues such as potential physical and emotional changes, changes in social relationships, and workplaces. This book can be found at http://cancer.gov/cancerinfo/life-after-treatment.

--Siga adelante: la vida despues del tratamiento del cancer is a Spanish version of Life After Cancer Treatment that highlights issues relevant to Latino survivors. This is available on the Web at http://cancer.gov/espanol/vida-despues-del-tratamiento.

--Ways You Can Make a Difference in Cancer, an overview of the benefits and ways of becoming involved in cancer-related activities that “give back” to the community. This book can be found on the Web at http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/make-a-difference. To order free copies of the Facing Forward Survivor Series books, call 1-800-4-CANCER (1-800-422-6237), or visit the Web site at http://www.cancer.gov/publications.

(C) Cancer Survival Toolbox from the National Coalition of Cancer Survivorship is a series of audiotapes or CD’s designed to assist those who have been recently diagnosed with cancer. It can also help anyone facing hard decisions and changes in life because of cancer. Six important topics are covered: communicating, finding information, making decisions, solving problems and negotiating for your rights. Also available in Spanish and Chinese (print version only). It can be listened to or ordered free of charge or at http://www.cansearch.org/programs/.


III – Thanksgiving Recipes

I have several ultra-healthy recipes on my web site to make for your upcoming Thanksgiving feast (http://www.cancerrd.com/recipe_page.htm). If you haven’t already tried a Tofurky, this is a good time to do so (found in the frozen food section at a natural food store). Visit their web site at http://www.tofurky.com for more info. My web site also has a recipe for Tofu Pumpkin Pie that always gets rave reviews at all times of the year (http://www.cancerrd.com/recipes/pumpkin1.htm). I post new recipes every month, so pick something new to add to your holiday traditions. Also read what I have said about eating during the holidays – how to enjoy your food without the morning after guilt! http://www.cancerrd.com/FAQs/FAQ3.htm.

IV – Research Updates

(A) Tea – I saw this research update in the July 2002 issue of Prevention Magazine. Since I drink so much green tea, and know that many of my readers do too, I just had to pass this info on.

Dunking tea bags continuously for 3 minutes (instead of leaving the tea bag in the cup) or using loose-leaf tea (instead of tea bags) permitted the release of 5 times more of the cancer-fighting and heart-protecting molecules called polyphenols. Since I have begun drinking green tea in order to maximize my intake of cancer-fighting foods and beverages, I certainly will incorporate this information into a new habit.

Taking the time to dunk that tea bag can be a mini meditation time during the day. In fact, I have often wondered if green tea is healthy due solely to its chemical constituents or if health benefits are also conferred due to the relaxation obtained from the preparation process and drinking slowly while chatting with friends and family. (Astill C et al, J. Agric Food Chem 2001 Nov;49 (11): 5340, Factors affecting the caffeine and polyphenol contents of black and green tea infusions.)

(B) Cooking tomatoes increases cancer-fighting power!

Does processing of a whole food ever make it more healthful? An interesting question and one that will get more attention after the release of some research done at Cornell University that showed increasing the time tomatoes are cooked increases the amount of lycopene available to be absorbed by the body. (J Agric Food Chem 2002 May 8; 50 (10): 3010-4, Dewanto V et al)

Lycopene, a carotenoid molecule responsible for making tomatoes red, has shown cancer protective activity against both prostate cancer and breast cancer. Cooking tomatoes at ~190 degrees F. for 2, 15 and 30 minutes showed that both forms of lycopene available for absorption increased significantly during the cooking time and that antioxidant levels in the heated tomatoes increased by 29, 34 and 62 percent respectively. This was in spite of the decreased levels of vitamin C content in the cooked tomatoes.

Anti-cancer activity of a whole food comes from a variety of molecules in that food, not just the well-known nutrients like vitamins and minerals. Research into the important function of phytonutrients like lycopene (and the other phytonutrients with anti-cancer activity in tomatoes, like polyphenols and flavonoids) will continue to expand, particularly how various aspects of food cooking or processing may maximize their beneficial contributions.

In the meantime, enjoy foods containing tomatoes regularly throughout each week. My web site features a great new recipe “Fresh Tomato Soup” (http://www.cancerrd.com/Recipes/freshtomatosoup1.htm) Special note: many of these cancer-fighting phytonutrients like lycopene are fat-soluble molecules. In order to maximize their absorption into your body, your meal or snack should contain a small amount of fat. For example, if you pop some cherry tomatoes into your mouth as a snack (or drink a can of tomato or vegetable-based juice, also eat a few olives or nuts (just a couple, not a large handful) to provide a few grams of fat to help your body absorb those vital caner-fighting molecules.

(C) “Mega-dose vitamins and minerals in the treatment of non-metastatic breast cancer: an historical cohort study”, Lesperance et al, Breast Cancer Research and Treatment 76:137-143, 2002.

The survival of 90 breast cancer patients who began consuming megadoses of various vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants within 180 days after diagnosis of non-metastatic breast cancer was compared with 180 control breast cancer patients who did not consume megadose dietary supplements after diagnosis. All patients were undergoing conventional cancer therapy (chemotherapy and/or tamoxifen).

These are the supplements prescribed and the dose range:
Beta-carotene (0 to 250 iu)
Vitamin B3/niacin (0- >1.0 mg)
Vitamin C (0 – 24 grams)
Co-enzyme Q10 (0 – 100 mg)
Selenium (0 to 1000 mcg)
Zinc (0 to >50 mg)

Most patients were prescribed a regime that included 5 of these supplements. No rationale is given in the article for the choice of these supplements or how different doses were determined for any individual.

Two end points were examined:
(1) # Days from diagnosis to death from breast cancer,
(2) # Days from diagnosis to systemic relapse - regional or distant spread - or death from breast cancer.

While the differences between the cases and controls were not statistically significant, the two graphs of the data clearly show poorer outcome for those patients consuming dietary supplements at both the 5 and 10-year end points,

The supplements clearly did not show benefit in this observational study, which appears to be the best controlled study in the literature to date to try to evaluate this confusing and controversial question.

These data were collected on women with non-metastatic breast cancer. That is an important point, as these patients are potentially curable.

I find it very hard to argue that this particular regime would be potentially beneficial in this patient population. Just as a point of information, the only dietary supplement that I took during my chemotherapy was a one-a-day type of multivitamin. The doses of vitamins and antioxidants I currently consume are much lower than was prescribed for patients included in this study.

The authors of this study are continuing to evaluate their data to compare the same endpoints in women who started their supplements prior to 180 days after diagnosis to those who started more than 180 days after diagnosis. I eagerly await that publication and will include it in a future newsletter (nothing additional has yet been published as of April 2005). Additional information on this controversial topic can be found on my we site at http://www.CancerRD.com/FAQs/FAQ37.htm.


V – Upcoming Conference

Research regarding potential interactions between antioxidants and chemotherapy/radiotherapy (pros and cons) will be presented at an upcoming workshop conducted June 26-27, 2003 in Washington, DC. The conference, “Free Radicals: The Pros and Cons of Antioxidants”, is being sponsored by the National Cancer Institute, the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, and the Office of Dietary Supplements. It will be open to both health care professionals and the public, so put the date on your calendar now of the following web sites for registration information as it becomes available:


VII – Removal from future Email updates for Diana Dyer,

I know that life changes with time. Thus, if you are not interested in receiving future updates and announcements for me via Email or have other subscription requests, please Email that information to: Newsletter1@CancerRD.com

(Special Note- Please use this Emil address only for subscription information. I do not check it regularly, and thus any personal messages to me may not be read or answered in a timely manner.)

For those who choose to remain on this list, be assured that I will never share your name or Email address with anyone. I send my best holiday wishes to all of you for health, healing, and hope.



Diana Grant Dyer, Ms, RD – Author
A Dietitian’s Cancer Story (English and Spanish translation)
Available from AICR (call 1-800-843-8114)
My Web Site: http://www.CancerRD.com

“Information and inspiration for cancer survivors”

Proceed donated to the Diana Dyer Cancer Survivors’ Nutrition and Cancer Research Endowment at the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR).


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