No one food by itself can keep you from getting cancer. However, research shows a diet filled with various fruits, vegetables, beans, whole grains and other plant foods can lower your risk for multiple types of cancer. Ongoing research on the right diet for bladder cancer patients could aid in the fight against this disease.
The Best Foods to Eat to Fight or Prevent Bladder Cancer
Specific diet and nutrition advice for bladder cancer patients includes a diet rich in these foods.
Researchers link vegetables with a 10 percent reduction of the risk for bladder cancer per serving, according to the Bladder Cancer Advocacy Network (BCAN). Cruciferous vegetables, including cauliflower, broccoli, kale, cabbage, asparagus and brussel sprouts, contain the sulforaphane compound, which studies show may inhibit bladder cancer growth.
Consume a lot of colorful, leafy vegetables, as they contain antioxidants. Antioxidants repair cell damage and could even help prevent some types of cancer. These types of foods also have anti-inflammatory properties that could fight cancer.
Orange, yellow and red pigments of the antioxidant class known as carotenoids are believed to be especially essential. You can find them in foods like sweet potatoes, carrots and peppers.
The same researchers who found veggies can decrease bladder cancer risk also link fruit consumption with a 10 percent reduction in the risk for bladder cancer per serving. Citrus fruits like lemons, oranges, grapefruit and limes have antioxidant properties that could be protective.
The American Institute of Cancer Research recommends five servings of non-starchy fruits and veggies each day. A serving size is around one cup of raw vegetables, a half cup of cooked vegetables or a half cup of fruit.
BCAN says you may realize a 6 percent reduction in the risk for bladder cancer with each cup of tea you consume a day. Studies on animals have shown polyphenol compounds hinder the growth of a bladder tumor.
Tea could also reduce the risk of other types of cancer. Green tea has epigallocatechin-3-gallate in it, which has anti-cancer properties. Researchers haven’t determined the best tea for bladder cancer prevention yet. Green or oolong tea is about equal to black tea in studies.
4. Organic Foods
You may wonder if you can keep cancer from recurring or growing by following an organic diet. Recent research suggests an organic diet is more effective at fighting cancer compared to a non-organic diet.
Some individuals worry the pesticides farmers use on non-organic produce cause cancer. Researchers have continued to look into this question over the years without a definitive finding. Certainly there's nothing to be lost by consuming organic foods, which encompass healthy choices such as eggs, lean poultry and produce.
What About Juicing Fruits and Vegetables and Bladder Cancer?
Are there any benefits to juicing for those with bladder cancer? Juicing does increase the nutrients you consume daily. It can benefit people who have difficulty chewing and/or digesting their food.
When using a juicer, you remove the fiber from produce, which is an essential nutrient for gut health. If you're not having difficulties feeding, you should get your five servings of fruit and vegetables before you juice, and then add on the juicing of fruits and vegetables. You may want to add in more veggies than fruits since they have less sugar.
You may want to add protein to your juice if you have issues maintaining a normal blood sugar level. Keep in mind when buying pre-made juices from the grocery store that many don't have the nutrients your body requires as it fights cancer, so thoroughly read labels before buying anything.
Cancer Food and Drink Myths
Food and beverage misconceptions about cancer can result in unnecessary anxiety and worry about your health. Common myths include the following.
Myth 1: Eating Sugar Will Cause Cancer to Grow
Your body is made up of healthy and cancer cells that convert sugar, or glucose, into energy. There haven't been any studies that show sugar consumption makes cancer worse. Nor have there been any studies showing sugar avoidance will eliminate or shrink your cancer.
Overeating does contribute to obesity and being overweight, which are risk factors for cancer. If you have bladder cancer, you should focus on fresh foods and not packaged ones that may be high in sugar. But the occasional treat will not impact your cancer.
Myth 2: Artificial Sweeteners Can Lead to Cancer
Artificial sweeteners are sugar-free substitutes you add to food to make it sweeter without added calories. Back in the '70s, studies showed cyclamate, an additive that has since been removed from the U.S. market, combined with saccharin led to bladder cancer in lab animals. Bladder cancer incidences in rats that received high saccharin doses also rose.
But this doesn't seem to occur with humans. Rats make sodium salts that contribute to the formation of tumors in their bladders, but mice, humans and monkeys don't do this, so consuming these compounds didn't cause bladder cancer in these cases.
Myth 3: Consuming an Alkaline Diet Fights Cancer
Cancer researchers have noted cancer cells survive better in acidic, or low-PH, environments than high-PH, or alkaline, environments. That led some to theorize an "alkaline diet" would make the body a less-hospitable host to cancer cells, but there is no scientific proof for this theory.
What About Supplements for Bladder Cancer?
You might have heard doctors advise against dietary supplements for preventing cancer. They suggest obtaining nutrients from food instead of supplements since herbal and nutrient supplements can interact with medicine and cause adverse reactions. Talk to your doctor first if you want to use dietary supplements to protect your urinary tract.
In the winter months, many people develop a vitamin D deficiency, which can also be seen in those with darker skin pigmentation or who spend a lot of time indoors. BCAN says researchers have linked vitamin D and iron deficiencies with a higher risk of bladder cancer.
Broccoli sprout pills, green tea or curcumin supplements have become popular natural supplements for those undergoing bladder cancer treatments. Studies fail to provide conclusive evidence of their benefits among humans:
Taking the curcumin supplement during bladder cancer treatment seemed to decrease tumor size in mice but not humans.
Broccoli sprout extract inhibited bladder cancer growth in vitro in cells
Probiotics are another interesting supplement that can colonize your gut with healthy bacteria, especially during or after antibiotic treatment. Nutrients are essential for your health. However, it's advisable you begin by following a healthy diet, and this includes obtaining your nutrients from food. There aren't any supplements found effective in decreasing your risk of bladder cancer as of yet.
Dietary Recommendations for Treatments of Bladder Cancer
Below are some recommendations for bladder cancer treatments and treatments for symptoms.
Recommendations by Treatment
Physicians recommend adhering to a healthy, balanced diet for all bladder cancer treatment stages, but your doctor might advise you against specific nutrition considerations for certain treatments. It's crucial you eat properly to maintain your weight no matter what treatment you receive.
A cystectomy takes out the urinary bladder. Before your cystectomy, you should eat sufficient calories and protein to maintain your weight and refrain from losing weight, particularly around the time of your operation because this treatment can often lead to weight loss.
Try to walk after surgery if you can, and commit to as much regular activity as you can tolerate during your recovery. Maintain a healthy diet after bladder cancer surgery.
After your surgery, stimulate your gut as soon as you can. Try to eat within 24 hours of your operation, starting off with soft foods and liquids. Avoid sugary beverages since they can contribute to GI symptoms and diarrhea after a major surgery like a cystectomy.
2. Bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG) or Chemotherapy
Bacillus Calmette-Guerin is an immunotherapy used to treat bladder cancer, while chemotherapy are drugs that treat the disease. While undergoing these treatments, you should follow a healthy diet and commit to as much regular activity as you can tolerate during your recovery. The treatments take a lot of energy, though they can cause fatigue, and may require a boost in caloric intake:
- Eat small meals, including right before you go to bed. You need to stay ahead of your feeding schedule because if you allow yourself to become hungry, it can make it more difficult to eat.
- Try to keep fat and protein-containing snacks, like nuts, crackers, peanut butter and granola bars, with you.
- Adding fats such as guacamole, avocados, olive oil, nut butters and butter help you obtain more calories.
- Drinking your calories through protein drinks and soup between meals can be helpful.
Recommendations for Bladder Cancer Treatment Symptoms
While undergoing treatment for bladder cancer, you might experience adverse side effects. Try the below diet, nutrition and eating tips to combat these symptoms.
Bladder Cancer Treatment Symptoms: Change of Smell or Taste
This is a common symptom for bladder cancer patients, particularly those going through chemo or undergoing a cystectomy. Many times patients experience a metallic taste in their mouth. Using wooden chopsticks or plastic utensils rather than metal utensils can help alleviate this taste.
Bladder Cancer Treatment Symptoms: Constipation
Constipation is another symptom those with bladder cancer may experience. Try to keep your liquid intake up by drinking at least eight cups of fluids a day. Fill up a jug with eight cups of liquid and finish the jug each day so you can track your fluid volume. Hot liquids like tea, coffee, broths and soup can move the contents through your gut more quickly.
Bladder Cancer Treatment Symptoms: Diarrhea
Diarrhea is also associated with bladder cancer treatment. Stay hydrated as much as possible to replace the fluid loss that comes with diarrhea. Before drinking carbonated liquids, let them lose their fizz since carbonation contributes to gas and discomfort.
Consume smaller meals and replace your electrolytes like potassium and sodium through apricots, bananas, broth and nuts. Consume low-fiber, lower-residue foods too. Drink your beverages and eat foods at room temperature, and try to avoid:
Greasy and spicy foods
Sugar-free candy and gum
Bladder Cancer Treatment Symptoms: Dry Mouth
If you experience dry mouth, sipping on water throughout your day can help, as can sucking on ice chips or hard candy.
Bladder Cancer Treatment Symptoms: Nausea
It's essential to consume foods that aren't hard on your stomach. Again, eat small meals throughout the day when you have an appetite, and don't let yourself become too hungry. Spread out your liquids throughout the day and try not to drink as much during meals so you can eat more and obtain enough nutrients. Eat things at room temperature and avoid foods that are greasy, sugary and spicy. Avoid milk products, alcohol, sugar and caffeine.
Overall Tips for a Healthy Diet
Continue eating a balanced, healthy diet as much as possible. Eat properly so you can prevent both weight loss and weight gain. You want to maintain a stable weight unless your physician tells you to lose or gain weight. Working with a dietitian who is familiar with cancer treatments and drugs and knows the side effects may prove worthwhile.
Here’s a list of foods to prepare for bladder cancer patients during every meal:
1. Vegetables and fruits
2. Starchy foods, like bread, cereals and pasta
3. Protein, like meat and fish
What Foods and Drinks You Should Avoid If You Have Bladder Cancer?
Make sure you cook eggs well and don't use homemade mayonnaise. Instead, stick to store-bought. If your immunity is low, don't eat raw eggs, cheeses that come from unpasteurized milk like blue-veined and Brie cheeses, live bacterial yogurt and paté. These foods could have harmful bacteria in them.
Researchers have linked red meat with a higher risk of certain types of cancer, but for bladder cancer, the data are inconsistent. Still, limit your red meat consumption to 18 ounces per week, recommends BCAN.
Processed meats are preserved by curing, salting, smoking or adding chemicals like nitrates, such as sausage, bacon, luncheon meats and hot dogs. Avoid all of them. A study revealed eating high quantities of processed meats might correlate with a 33 percent increased risk of bladder cancer.
There is strong evidence showing individuals who drink well water containing arsenic have a higher risk of developing bladder cancer. Most individuals in the U.S. drink water from the public water system. But this could be a concern for those drinking from residential wells, particularly older wells.
What About Superfoods For Bladder Cancer?
You'll benefit your health the most by consuming a balanced diet that includes a combination of different foods, including vegetables and fruit that have anti-cancer properties. Rather than searching for a "superfood," aim for a "superdiet" by sticking to the recommended guidelines for healthy eating.
What Is the Best Diet for Bladder Cancer Patients?
One of the best diets for fighting bladder cancer is the Mediterranean diet. While particular foods vary by country, Mediterranean cuisine is largely based on vegetables, fruits, protein, healthy fats and cereal grains. You should consume unprocessed foods and only eat poultry, eggs, cheese and yogurt in moderation when following this diet. It's also recommended that you eat red meat rarely.
Since the Mediterranean diet focuses on healthy fats and protein, you shouldn't eat any added sugars or refined grains or oils. Other foods to avoid include:
- Beverages sweetened with sugar such as soda
- Processed meat such as sausages or hot dogs
- Highly processed foods, including anything labeled as low-fat or diet
- Soybean oil, canola oil or cottonseed oil
- Trans fat in margarine and other processed foods
Water is the main drink involved with the Mediterranean diet. However, you can also drink moderate amounts of red wine, or about one glass a day. Coffee and tea are also acceptable if they're not sweetened.
What Foods Are Good for Fighting Bladder Cancer?
If you follow the Mediterranean diet, you should eat unprocessed foods, such as:
- Vegetables: Tomatoes, broccoli, spinach, carrots, brussels sprouts, etc.
- Fruits: Figs, melons, strawberries, bananas, apples, oranges, etc.
- Nuts and seeds: Almonds, hazelnuts, cashews, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, etc.
- Legumes: Lentils, pulses, peanuts, beans, etc.
- Tubers: Potatoes, turnips, sweet potatoes, etc.
- Whole grains: Brown rice, corn, whole wheat, whole-grain bread, pasta, etc.
- Fish and seafood: Sardines, tuna, salmon, shrimp, clams, crab, etc.
- Poultry: Chicken, turkey, duck, etc.
- Eggs: Chicken, quail and duck eggs.
- Dairy: Cheese, Greek yogurt, regular yogurt, etc.
- Herbs and spices: Garlic, mint, rosemary, nutmeg, cinnamon, etc.
- Healthy fats: Avocados, avocado oil, extra virgin olive oil, etc.
Research doesn't have a clear link between your diet and reducing bladder cancer risk. However, not smoking, following a healthy diet, controlling your weight and getting regular physical activity will all positively impact your health.
Contact Cxbladder to Learn More About Our Suite of Non-Invasive Urine Tests
Using nutrtition to address symptoms of bladder cancer is one way to improve quality of life while you fight this disease. Using Cxbladder is another. Cxbladder is a simple-to-use, non-invasive suite of bladder cancer detection tests that measure unique molecular signatures, helping to diagnose or monitor recurrence of bladder cancer. Contact us to obtain more information on our bladder cancer detection tests.