Functional Medicine: The Role of Nutrition and Diet in Ovarian Cancer Survivorship







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Functional Medicine:

The Role of Nutrition and Diet in

Ovarian Cancer Survivorship


The objective: to improve understanding of the food choices that support the detoxification process and aide in healthy gut function.


Known Ovarian Cancer Risk Factors

Other cancers: you or your mother, daughter, or sister had cancer of the ovary, breast, colon, rectum, or uterus

Genes: you have mutations in genes (BRCA1 and BRCA2) Age: >55

Childbirth: never gave birth


Complete Support for Detoxification Optimal Intestinal Health


Complete Support for Detoxification


•Gastrointestinal Tract •Lymphatic System

•Lungs and Respiratory System •Skin


Textbook of Functional Medicine. Gig Harbor, Wash: The Institute for Functional Medicine, 2005, p 278. © 2005 The Institute of Functional Medicine.


Detox continued..

Phase I – “activation” -- Fat soluble toxins are converted to unstable intermediate molecules

Phase II – “conjugation” -- intermediate molecules are converted into more stable, water soluble molecules

glucuronidation sulfation


glutathione conjugation amino acid conjugation methylation


Foods & Nutrients that Up-Regulate Pathways

Fruits and Vegetables Cruciferous Vegetables Tumeric

Green Tea

Fibrous Foods Probiotics


Detoxification Do’s…….

Optimize calories and protein to support detoxification pathways Eliminate toxic ingredients and harmful cooking methods


Remove food allergens and interolances Focus on Fiber and Fluids

Boost antioxidant and micronutrient defenses Include detoxicants


Optimal Intestinal Health

Avoid alcohol

Avoid processed foods Increase Plant Foods

Increase fiber from whole food sources-

•Binds, aids in excretion of toxins, increases transit, helps to balance microflora

Increase Pre &Probiotics Increase Water


National Cancer Institute guidelines for cancer prevention can be used to decrease the chance of a recurrence.

These guidelines include:

Increase intake of fruits, vegetables and whole grains Decrease fat intake to < 30% of calories

Minimize intake of cured, pickled and smoked foods Achieve and maintain a healthy weight


Important Plant Sources for Good Health

Grains: Wheat, rye, oats, quinoa, amaranth, spelt, bulgur, barley

Green leafy vegetables: Lettuce, spinach, swiss chard, endives, beet greens

Cruciferous vegetables: Broccoli, cabbage, turnip, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, kohlorabi, bok choy, watercress, collards, kale, mustard greens, rutabaga

Umbelliferous vegetables:

Celery, parsley, fennel, carrots, parsnip

Allium vegetables: Garlic, onion, shallots, chives, leek

Legumes: Soybeans, peas, chickpeas, lima beans, peanut, carob, dried beans (kidney, mung, pinto, black-eyed), lentils

Solanaceous vegetables: Nightshade family: eggplant, tomatoes

Cucurbitaceous vegetables Gourd family: pumpkin, squash, cucumber, muskmelon, watermelon


Potential Cancer Fighters in Foods-Phytochemicals

Isothiocyanates: Cruciferous vegetables, mustard, horseradish

Phenolic compounds: Garlic, green tea, soybeans, cereal grains, cruciferous, umbelliferous, solanaceous, cucurbitaceous vegetables, licorice root, flax seed Flavanoids: Most fruits and vegetables (cruciferous, umbelliferous, solanaceous,

cucurbitaceous), citrus fruits, wine, green tea, onions, cereal grains, soybeans, flax seed

Mono-terpenes: Garlic, citrus fruits, caraway seeds, umbelliferous, solanaceous, Cucurbitaceous vegetables, sage, camphor, dill, basil, mint

Organo-sulfides: Garlic, onion, leeks, shallots, cruciferous vegetables Isoflavones: Soybeans, legumes, flax seed


Why Phytochemicals?


Low Toxicity

General Availability

Multiple Signaling Pathways

•Cell proliferation •Apoptosis



Research made by the American Cancer Society in July of 2003

explained that women with ovarian cancer who eat a vegetable-rich diet have a greater chance of survival than those who don’t.

Based on the Oregon State University, phytochemicals are associated with reduced cancer risk.

Based on accumulative studies publicized by the Ovarian Cancer National Institute (OCNI) diets rich in soy can also minimize risk of ovarian cancer


What to do:

More Fruits/Vegetables may improve survival Drink Tea Daily

Increase Fish – Decrease processed meat

Increase Foods rich in Flavonoids with anti-cancer properties:

Tumeric – potential mechanism: angiogenesis. Clinical trials pending Anti-inflammatory phytochemicals: inhibit VEGF production

Kaempferol – sources; turnip greens and spinach Genistein –tofu, soy milk, tempeh, miso

Apigenin – sources; celery, parsley, tomato sauce, red wine Luteolin – greens, celery, herbs, artichokes

Quercetin – green vegetables, parsley, apples, cherries, onions

Stay lean. Some studies suggest obesity may increase ovarian cancer risk. Maintain a healthy body weight.

Exercise regularly. Regular aerobic exercise, such as brisk walking, running, swimming, or exercise classes, are one more

way to limit cancer risks and decrease risk of recurrence.

Journal of the American Dietetic Association"; Prediagnosis Food Patterns Are Associated with Length of Survival from Epithelial Ovarian Cancer; T.A. Dolecek et al.; March 2010

Chen SS, Michael A, Butler-Manuel SA. Advances in the treatment of ovarian cancer: a potential role of antiinflammatory phytochemicals. Discov Med. 2012 Jan;13(68):7-17. Review. PubMed PMID: 22284780.

Zhang M, Lee AH, Binns CW, Xie X. Green tea consumption enhances survival of epithelial ovarian cancer. Int J Cancer. 2004 Nov 10;112(3):465-9. PubMed PMID: 15382073.




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