The Beacon June FY22


Lauren Atkins

T he foods you eat have the power to make you feel good and support your recovery and healing. The Beacon asked Lauren Atkins, an Advanced Accredited Practising Dietitian and co-founder of OnCore Nutrition, to bust some common myths about food and breast cancer. What impact does nutrition have before and after a breast cancer diagnosis? Nutrition can significantly impact the cancer experience and outcomes. Research suggests that as many as 30 to 35 per cent of cancer-related deaths are linked to diet. Good nutrition can support better treatment tolerance and reduce side effects. It can also help develop strength and muscle mass, stabilise energy levels and mood, and reduce the risk of cancer recurrence. Finding a good balance is key to ensuring you are getting the best nutrition for your body without feeling deprived or fearful about food.

diagnosis is eligible to access a Chronic Disease Management Plan and Medicare subsidy. You need to have your GP develop a plan for you before your appointment to be eligible for a Medicare subsidy. MYTH BUSTING Does sugar cause breast cancer? Are artificial sweeteners a better option? Cancer feeds off everything, including sugar. However, sugar also fuels our healthy cells. My advice is to include sugar in moderation as part of a balanced diet. Should I try a keto or low carbohydrate diet? There is some evidence linking low carbohydrate and ketogenic diets with reduced risk of breast cancer recurrence. I recommend moderate intake of low glycaemic index (GI) carbohydrates – these are complex carbohydrates that are broken down and absorbed more slowly into our bloodstream. Whole grains, legumes, nuts, seeds and some vegetables and fruits are examples of low GI carbohydrates. They provide a steady release of energy and don’t cause blood sugar and insulin spikes. Seek support from an APD before making any significant changes to your diet. Is organic food better for me?

inconclusive but the evidence supporting eating plenty of fresh produce is not! Ideally, focus on eating plenty of fresh, plant-based produce, organic or not. Should I avoid dairy? According to our best available evidence, including the latest World Cancer Research Fund recommendations, dairy products and diets high in calcium appear to reduce the risk of breast cancer recurrence. Continue to enjoy dairy products to support bone health and opt for calcium fortified alternatives if you choose to be dairy-free. For those on aromatase inhibitors, such as anastrozole and letrozole, it’s important to protect your bone health and get the recommended intake of calcium and vitamin D. Do I need to give up chicken because of the hormones? No. Lean poultry has been shown to be protective in the context of breast cancer. No chicken produced in Australia contain added hormones. Is soy bad for you? There is no reason to avoid soy products and in fact some argument to include them. The only exception here is soy supplements, which should be avoided. For more information, check out BCNA’s My Journey or listen to Upfront about breast cancer podcasts: Busting nutrition myths and Nutrition and breast cancer .

Who can I see for nutritional advice?

An Accredited Practising Dietitian (ADP) with oncology experience can provide tailored nutrition advice. To find an ADP, visit the Dietitians Australia website . Anyone with a breast cancer

Evidence about the impact of organic foods on cancer is


Issue 91 | June 2022

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