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Art transforms into compassion

Nutrition Maze - Find your own dietary therapy

I attended a cancer talk on 28 April 2007. The speaker advised cancer patients to drop chicken, red meat and diary products from their diet. He strongly advocates a plant-based diet for cancer patients. During the Q&A session, one will notice that cancer patients were confused by his dietary advice as most oncologists often advise them to continue with their normal eating habits. This reaffirmed the common and long standing situation where cancer patients and caregivers are often caught in a dilemma - not knowing which one is worthier advice on nutrition for cancer patients. I strongly feel that if only cancer patients and their caregivers are pro-active and willing to do their own research on cancer diet, I am sure that they will be able to determine the right kind of cancer diet based on their personal inclination and needs.

Indeed, there are many books on cancer diet available at the National Library and lots of reading materials can also be found on the Internet. Since the launch of CancerStory.com, I have always shared my knowledge on the various types of diet therapies while leaving the choice of healing to the cancer patients and their caregivers.

On 31 August 2006, an old classmate of mine broke the sad news - she had contracted third stage lung cancer. I pondered over the cause of her lung cancer as she is a non-smoker and has been a vegetarian for at least 20 years. Finally, I nailed it down to work stress as the main culprit for her lung cancer.

In February 2007, one cancer patient regretted not heeding advice from her relatives to abstain from meat when her cancer relapsed. I urged her not to brood over it as the recurrence of cancer is unlikely to be caused by consumption of red meat - sharing my classmate's cancer experience.

The question remains unanswered - Are animal-based products suitable for cancer patients? I would think that most people will be motivated to change/modify their eating habits after watching a VCD on how animals are reared in the present days' competitive business environment. (This VCD dubbed in Mandarin is available in Singapore). Nowadays, it is a struggle for many parents trying to get their children to eat vegetables. Based on the experience of one particular mother - she had played this VCD to her children but it failed to "scare" them away from animal-based products as they viewed it more like a horror film.

Going for plant-based products may not necessarily be the best choice if these products are contaminated with pesticides. One may suggest that the healthier choice is to go for organic plant-based products. Cost-constraint is the biggest obstacle to this option of living on pricey organic products. How many certified organic farms do we have in Singapore? The answer is none at this moment. Hence, consumers must be discerning to know the difference between pesticide-free products and true organic products. In the present commercialized world, some irresponsible entrepreneurs are making fast bucks selling "false" organic products - a fact known among the industry players. The organic labels are not regulated and verified in Singapore.

Some cancer patients become paranoid about their diets and put stress on themselves to plan a winning cancer diet. Remember that nutrition only forms part of cancer care. My advice - eat within your means and be comfortable with your eating habits so that you will enjoy "healthful and happy" meals. Your dietary therapy is unique!

Posted on 1 May 2007

A similar letter was published on ST Forum Online (2 May 2007). Please click here.

Additional Notes :

The speaker (a doctor) offered Kombucha mushroom culture to the attendees.

Please note that there is no scientific evidence to support any of the claims made for Kombucha tea. There have been reports of some serious complications associated with the tea because it is highly acidic. Drinking excessive amounts of the tea is not recommended. Deaths have been reported from acidosis linked with the tea, and the FDA in US, has warned consumers to be cautious when making and drinking the tea.

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