New cookbook for cancer survivors

Offers an alternative to fad diets
  • Deborah Condon

A new cookbook for cancer survivors has been launched in an attempt to offer a healthy, evidence-based alternative to the high number of fad diets currently being targeted at those affected.

The book, Healthy Eating for Cancer Survivors, which is free of charge, was written by dietitians and cancer experts at University College Cork (UCC), in conjunction with Breakthrough Cancer Research (BCR).

The number of cancer survivors is on the rise worldwide and by 2050, it is expected to exceed 70 million. While more focus is now being placed on the importance of a healthy lifestyle, including diet, the upsurge in fad diets and dubious advice is of increasing concern.

Recent trends including juicing, avoiding meat and dairy, and following a ketogenic diet, have all been marketed towards cancer patients and survivors. However, none of these diets have a solid evidence base and many are experimental, which means some people are receiving misleading nutritional advice.

"With a rising tide of misinformation on nutrition and cancer available to cancer survivors in the media and online, we wrote this book as a free, evidence-based resource for cancer patients entering the survivorship phase of their illness.

"The meals contained in this book are low in energy, fat and salt, and high in fibre, vegetables and whole grains. Scientific evidence shows that complying with the advice in this book can help to lower the risk of cancer at many sites in the body," explained the book's co-author, Dr Éadaoin Ní Bhuachalla, who is a registered dietitian.

Previous cookbooks by UCC and BCR had focused on patients undergoing cancer treatment, but this is the first targeted at those who are finished their treatment and have been told by their doctors to follow a healthy diet.

The book contains the latest information from the 2018 World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) Report, which includes the most reliable information from all of the scientific studies published by the WCRF and the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR). These reports are also endorsed by the World Health Organization (WHO) and many other accredited international health bodies.

"We are delighted to finally be able to offer an evidence-based alternative to the fad diets being pushed upon cancer patients with this beautiful new cookbook. Thanks to support provided by BCR, this book is available free of charge to cancer survivors and contains a selection of delicious healthy meals and snacks, which are suitable for all the family," commented co-author, Dr Aoife Ryan, a registered dietitian and lecturer in nutritional sciences at UCC.

The recommendations for healthy lifestyle choices are explained in lay language and the book also includes a collection of healthy recipes suitable for all the family.

The evidence shows that following these recommendations may improve the chances of longer-term survival after a diagnosis of cancer. The recommendations include:
-Maintain a healthy weight
-Be physically active
-Eat plenty of wholegrains, vegetables, fruit and beans
-Limit fast foods and other processed foods high in fat, starches or sugars
-Limit red meat and eat little, if any, processed meat
-Limit sugar sweetened drinks
-Limit alcohol consumption
-Do not use supplements for cancer prevention. Aim to meet needs through diet

The book is endorsed by the Irish Society of Medical Oncology, the Irish Nutrition and Dietetic Institute, the Irish Society for Clinical Nutrition and Metabolism and the National Cancer Control Programme.

Orla Dolan is the chief executive of BCR, which funds cancer research, and she noted that the organisation is ‘delighted to invest in the development, production and distribution of this evidence-based cookbook for cancer survivors'.

"It is imperative that the advice and resources provided for cancer patients and survivors are based on research evidence. Only then can we have confidence and trust in the guidance and recommendations. We are so grateful to Aoife and Éadaoin for their amazing work to produce the book and to all to our supporters who helped us provide this wonderful tool for people who are getting their lives back after a cancer diagnosis," she said.

Some 20,000 free copies of the book are available through the dietetic departments of Irish hospitals, or by contacting BCR. Call 1890 998 998 or email


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