Academic Research on Dietary Programs & Methods to Prevent Brain Tumors
Among the most frightening words that a patient can hear from a doctor is “cancer.” The diagnosis of a cancer brings with it a host of concerns and questions regarding the prognosis, treatment and possibility of recurrence. Malignant brain tumors are a relatively common type of cancer in both children and adults. The National Cancer Institute estimates that in 2012, there will be just under 23,000 new cases diagnosed, and 13,000 deaths from brain tumors. Many different universities performing academic research on brain tumors have turned up a range of possible treatment and preventative care options, many of which relate to diet and nutrient intake.
As is true for most cancer treatments, even the most successful regiments usually come with a host of side effects. There is no cure for any of the hundreds of types of cancers but scientists continue to work on researching cures, and — equally important — possible preventive measures. An excellent example of effective prevention is the use of sunscreen as a means of protection from skin cancers. Some vitamins and dietary additives may also be useful at stymying cancerous growths before they begin.
A new study published in the medical journal Pediatrics finds that folic acid supplementation may reduce the incidence of both kidney and brain tumors in children. Researchers examined rates of various childhood cancers both before and after the U.S. government mandated that certain foods be certified with folic acid in 1998. Researchers found that there was a significant downward trend in the incidence of brain tumors that coincided with the introduction of folic acid in common foods.
In addition to folic acid supplementation, in the past decade researchers have found several other possible dietary links to a decrease in the incidence of cancer. Although it can be difficult to sort through the mass of information regarding diet and cancer, it is certainly worth investigating, particularly for those who are at higher risk for certain types of cancers.
A 2007 study, conducted by biologists at Boston College, reported findings that indicated that the introduction of a KetoCal diet “enhanced health and survival rates” for brain cancer patients, and suggested a possible link between this diet and decreased rates of cancer. The KetoCal diet is a plan that restricts carbohydrates and stresses high-fat foods. It has been used for years to treat epilepsy in children. Although the mechanism is not entirely understood, there is a basic assumption that the diet works by depriving the brain cells of the glucose that they depend on for growth. This, in essence, “starves” rapidly-multiplying cancer cells while continuing to feed the healthy parts of the brain with ketones, which tumor cells cannot metabolize.
While the KetoCal diet is strict and requires a great deal of effort to follow, its benefits are largely unrefuted. Patients have several different options for following the diet. Purchasing ready-made supplements, shakes and other food products that meet the diet’s guidelines, is one option, as it measuring and making food from scratch following strict recipes and ingredient proportions. When cooking at home, foods must be mixed to a very specific ratio of nutrients. There are numerous websites, books and computer applications that can assist patients in this.
In addition to these specific dietary programs aimed at preventing or treating brain cancer, researchers have long offered general guidelines for cancer-preventing foods. Extensive studies and anecdotal evidence have established that a plant-based diet that includes high-fiber, whole grain foods, along with raw foods and the avoidance of known carcinogens can greatly reduce the odds of getting cancer.
There is no cure for malignant brain tumors. Making sure to take daily vitamins and eat a balanced diet may or may not help ward tumors off, but will certainly cause no harm. Eating a balanced diet, ensuring the intake of all needed nutrients, and keeping an eye on fluctuating health are usually some of the best things to do to ward off potential cancers.
27th June 2012