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A ‘rainbow diet’ to prevent, treat cervical cancer

Published:Wednesday | April 26, 2017 | 12:14 AMDr Joy Callender
Adopt the ‘Rainbow Diet’ - five to nine servings per day of a variety of coloured foods.

Nutrition is important to prevent cervical cancer, during the treatment of this cancer, and after recovery from cervical cancer. A diet low in fruits and vegetables increases the risk for cervical cancer. Prevention involves eating a diet based on a variety of healthy foods, which include brightly coloured

vegetables, fruits, whole grains and ground provisions, legumes and nuts, cold water fish and seafood.

Women who smoke have twice the risk of damaging the DNA of cervical cells compared with non-smoking women.

Conventional treatments for cervical cancer include a combination of surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy. Although these may be imperfect, they are the therapies proven by research to offer long-term success when started early. The cervix is the lower part of the uterus. Radiation treatment involves radiation to the pelvic region, which is close to the gut. The latter can be easily irritated and diarrhoea is a possible side effect. A restricted residue diet is used to prevent this. Your nutritionist or dietitian can help with this.

Chemotherapy, depending on the drugs used, or the cancer itself can cause the following:

- Poor appetite

- Weight changes (usually weight loss)

- Insomnia

- Pain

- Nausea

Medical marijuana - which has low levels of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol, the mind-altering component, and higher levels of cannabinoids - may be useful to treat the above. This is an area of very active research.


Diet will vary, depending on the immediate goals.

- Eat small meals more frequently

- Maintain a healthy weight

- Avoid known carcinogens such as cured, smoked, highly processed foods; heavy alcohol intake; environmental toxins, for example, tobacco, some insecticides, etc

- Adopt the 'Rainbow Diet' (five to nine servings per day of a variety of coloured foods)

- Include 'anti-inflammatory' foods such as garlic, turmeric, ginger

- Alcohol intake should be moderate, if at all, and should be limited to any effect on improvement in appetite

- Limit fat intake, especially from animal sources

- The use of ginger and mint (eating and drinking at different times) can help with nausea.

It is important to consult with an expert in nutrition as early as possible.

- Dr Joy Callender is a nutrition specialist at The Nutrition Centre. Email: