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Cancer Survivors Day

Cancer Survivors Day is an annual, international event that celebrates the lives of those who have faced cancer and survived. It serves as a reminder that life after cancer is...

Cancer Survivors Day is an annual, international event that celebrates the lives of those who have faced cancer and survived. It serves as a reminder that life after cancer is possible and as an inspiration for those who have recently had a cancer diagnosis. Cancer Survivors Day brings together individuals, families, healthcare professionals, and support organisations to honour the journey of survivors and provide a platform for sharing experiences and to offer support to those still battling the disease (1).

Survivors face a range of challenges, including physical side effects, emotional well-being, and the need for ongoing medical care. Cancer Survivors Day aims to shed light on these challenges and provide a platform for survivors to connect, share their experiences, and find solace in a supportive community.

Cancer Survivors Day also serves as a reminder of the progress made in cancer research, early detection, treatments, and the increasing number of individuals who are living beyond cancer with a better quality of life. It is also a call to action for further research, more resources, and increased public awareness to improve the lives of cancer survivors.

Cancer Survivors Day is celebrated each year on the first Sunday in June, which this year is 2nd June.

In this blog we’ll look at research into diet, exercise and supplements associated with surviving cancer.

Diet and Cancer 

It is estimated that dietary habits accounts for 30% of all cancers. Strategies to reduce cancer risk include (2):

  • maintaining a healthy weight
  • being physically active
  • consuming a diet rich in whole grains, fruits, non-starchy vegetables, and legumes
  • limiting processed and fast food
  • limiting consumption of red meat and avoiding processed meats
  • drinking mostly water and limiting the consumption of sugar sweetened drinks
  • limiting or avoiding alcohol. 

Nutrition and the Immune System

Immunotherapy is a cancer treatment that aims to harness the power of the body’s immune system to combat cancer. Nutrition can affect and potentially enhance the immune response against cancer. In particular, diet can affect the composition of the gut microbiota which in turn may have a powerful effect on the immune system.

A meta-analysis into the effects of dietary patterns and diet interventions on cancer prognosis found that a high quality diet rich in whole foods, fruit and vegetables is associated with improved survival from several types of cancer (3). The EPIC study into cancer and nutrition found that higher consumption of fruit, vegetables and fish had protective effects against some of the most common cancers (colorectal, breast, prostate and lung cancer) while lower consumption of red and processed meat and alcohol were protective (4).

Specific dietary patterns that may be supportive of the immune system include the Mediterranean diet, vegetarian or vegan diets, Japanese diet and ketogenic diets. These have all been shown to lower the risk of developing several cancers and to reduce the mortality associated with them (5).

Ketogenic Diet

Several experimental and clinical studies support the use of the ketogenic diet as adjuvant therapy to treat some cancers. The ketogenic diet is a high fat, very-low-carbohydrate diet. Some research shows it has anticancer effects and could augment conventional anticancer therapies. The ketogenic diet may target cancer cells by interfering with their metabolism without harming normal cells (6). Some tumours are glucose-dependent, and patients with these tumours could benefit from a ketogenic diet (7).

There is some variation in the ketogenic diets used in the studies to date so more research is needed to optimise the ketogenic diet for anticancer and nutritional effects (8). 


Modifiable lifestyle factors can affect cancer risk. Exercise, in particular, has shown many beneficial effects in cancer prevention and anticancer treatment. In addition to protecting against cancer, exercise can enhance the efficacy of certain cancer treatments such as immunotherapy and radiotherapy. It may also reduce the symptoms and side effects of cancer and its treatment, such as fatigue, cachexia, cognitive impairment, and depression. Cancer rehabilitation guidelines advise cancer survivors to take exercise (9).


Curcumin – Curcumin is known to have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial and antiviral properties. It also has several anti-cancer and anti-tumour properties (10,11,12).

Omega 3 fats - Low omega 3 fat consumption is associated with an increased incidence of cancer. Omega 3 oils reduce symptoms of cancer including cachexia, inflammation, neuropathy, post operative complications and quality of life (13).

Vitamin D - Sufficient vitamin D levels are important for a healthy immune system. Many patients with cancer have insufficient vitamin D levels, and low vitamin D levels are associated with increased all-cause mortality and especially mortality due to cancer (14).

Giving Vitamin D to patients with palliative cancer could improve their well-being, decrease pain and reduce susceptibility to infections (15).

Vitamin D supplementation does not have any known adverse side effects.

Zinc - Zinc plays an important role in the immune system. Zinc deficiency in cancer patients of all types correlates with disease severity and negatively correlates with survival rates. Zinc shows toxicity toward cancer cells without having negative effects on healthy cells. Zinc may be added to cancer treatment regimens to alleviate zinc deficiency and support the immune system (16).

Always consult with your medical specialist before embarking on any dietary, lifestyle or supplement programmes.




  2. Nutr Hosp. 2022 Sep 1;39(Spec No3):74-77. Diet and lifestyle in cancer prevention. Lopez-Plaza B et al.
  3. 2022 Jan 14;14(2):348. The Role of Diet in Prognosis among Cancer Survivors: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Dietary Patterns and Diet Interventions. Castro-Espin C et al.
  4. 2021 Oct 13;13(10):3582. Evidence Update on the Relationship between Diet and the Most Common Cancers from the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) Study: A Systematic Review. Ubago-Guisado E et al.
  5. J Transl Med. 2018 Mar 20;16(1):75. The influence of diet on anti-cancer immune responsiveness. Soldati L et al.
  6. Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care. 2023 Jul 1;26(4):369-376. Ketogenic diet in cancer management. Talib WH et al.
  7. Crit Rev Oncol Hematol. 2020 Sep:153:103061. Does nutrition for cancer patients feed the tumour? A clinical perspective. Bozzetti F et al.
  8. Nutr Cancer. 2023;75(1):112-122. Methodological Approaches to Ketogenic Dietary Treatments in Glioma Patients from a Nutritional Point of View. Guo A et al.
  9. Cancer Lett. 2022 Sep 28:544:215814. Exercise in cancer prevention and anticancer therapy: Efficacy, molecular mechanisms and clinical information. Chuanmei Zhu et al.
  10. 2019 Oct 5;11(10):2376. Curcumin and Cancer. Giordano A et al.
  11. Mol Carcinog. 2019 Nov;58(11):1946-1959. Antitumour effects of metformin and curcumin in human papillomavirus positive and negative head and neck cancer cells. Lindsay C et al.
  12. Biomed Pharmacother. 2022 Dec:156:113956. Curcumin: An epigenetic regulator and its application in cancer. Tianqi Ming et al.
  13. Cancer Lett. 2022 Feb 1:526:193-204. Multi-targeted therapy of cancer by omega-3 fatty acids-an update. Lengyn Wei et al.
  14. Ageing Res Rev. 2023 Jun:87:101923. Efficacy of vitamin D3supplementation on cancer mortality: Systematic review and individual patient data meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials. Kuznia S et al.
  15. BMJ Support Palliat Care. 2016 Sep;6(3):287-91. Vitamin D and patients with palliative cancer. Bjorkhem-Bergman L et al.
  16. Isr Med Assoc J. 2022 Apr;24(4):258-262. Zinc in Cancer Therapy Revisited. Gelbard A.



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