When facing cancer, think of the trio: healthy diet, physical exercise and healthy weight
The Jules Bordet Institute, reference centre in the fight against cancer, is supporting Nutrition Day with a reminder of three essential factors to be considered when facing cancer: a healthy diet, regular physical exercise and maintaining a healthy weight.
When facing cancer, be sure to follow a healthy diet
The malnutrition associated with chronic diseases is a risk factor that is neglected far too often. Yet it affects between 20% and 70% of cancer patients (the figure varies depending on the type of cancer and age). A malnutrition characterised by weight loss, loss of appetite and a loss of muscular mass increases the risk of intolerance to treatment, prolonged hospitalisation and a reduced quality of life. Malnutrition also increases the risk of mortality, with an increased mortality of between 2% and 8% observed in patients who lost weight or ate less during their hospitalisation (data obtained by Nutrition Day audits). In some cases the side-effects of treatment, a depressive or anxiety reaction and social isolation can contribute to malnutrition. Early screening for signs of malnutrition requiring nutritional intervention is therefore essential.
Physical activity allows you to cope better with the disease
Physical activity enables you to increase the assimilation of proteins by the muscles and to preserve the muscular mass, which is essential for all individuals and especially when you are ill. Physical activity also has a positive impact on hormone levels and immunity. These are factors that increase tolerance to treatment and facilitate recovery. Studies show that regular physical activity brings a reduction in mortality of between 10% and 20% (all medical causes combined) among patients having been treated for breast cancer (World Cancer Research Fund 2018). Of course physical activity must be adapted to each patient depending on the illness, treatment and age.
A healthy weight: an essential benefit when facing illness
Whether as a prevention, during treatment or during remission or cure, it is important to maintain a healthy weight, which is a BMI of between 20 and 27 kg/m² (a slight excess weight is acceptable). Weight loss or excessive weight gain (for example, for patients receiving hormone therapy for breast cancer) can have a negative impact. In figures: a malnutrition that brings your BMI below 20 kg/m² brings an increased risk of intolerance to treatment. At the other end of the scale, obesity (that is, a BMI above 35 kg / m²) is in itself a risk factor for the development of certain cancers. In all cases consult your doctor if you notice any sudden weight gain or loss or if you want support in managing your weight.
The Jules Bordet Institute is supporting Nutrition Day 2021
For several years the Jules Bordet Institute has taken part in an international audit: Nutrition Day. Initiated by the “European Society of Clinical Nutrition and Metabolism” (ESPEN), the audit aims to gather data on the nutritional condition of patients and then compare the data obtained at various health care centres. Nutrition Day also seeks to increase the awareness of patients, carers and families of the importance of a healthy diet, of taking regular physical exercise and of maintaining a healthy weight during and even after cancer treatment for all patients cured of cancer.
For more information on Nutrition Day go to : www.nutritionday.org