Diet suggestions

Hello all. I was diagnosed on Oct 22, and am in watch and worry stage 1. I have been reading about anticancer diets. Do any of you follow a special diet? No sugar?, Raw?, Vegetarian? Any thoughts about diet to slow down CLL? I have been trying to limit my sugar intake, but fell into a box of chocolate over the holidays. Thank you very much for any suggestions.


16 Replies

  • Hi DeAnne, have a read of these previous posts:

    Why some foods should carry a cancer warning

    Six foods that increase or decrease your risk of cancer

    forget fad diets - this is what you should eat

    Generally, eating a wide range of healthy foods and eating foods that may increase your risk of secondary cancers in moderation or on just special occasions should put you in good stead.

    If your immunity is particularly low (unlikely if your are stage 1), you'll need to be cautious about some foods, including raw foods:

    You'll find quite a few more relevant articles on this site if you enter the following search terms in google:

    " food eating diet cll"


  • Are you familiar with Gerson Diet?

    Please note, there are some members in this community that do not agree with the Gerson Diet but please do you own research and make your own decision.

    Good luck and let me know if you need more info about the Gerson diet.

  • Diet is only half the picture, in my experience... you should consider a daily exercise program as well, but consult your CLL doctor before you make any changes in diet or exercise... CLLers have a wonky immune system and it is best to get your doctor's O.K.

    The key in this is to get healthier over time, so when you need treatment your body will have the reserve it needs to help fight the cancer... in other words you want to reduce your comorbidities... as much as possible, where possible.

    Improvements in diet and weight loss are important... also have blood tests for VitD3, folate, B12... and supplement as recommended by your doctor...

    Doctors refer to this as a patient's performance status, and it plays a role in treatment and which treatments are available, in some cases. Age is also a factor, but that we can't change. ;-)

    There are a number of scoring systems, but the better the performance the easier the treatment in general terms... and a better quality of life, QoL, during and post treatment and in remission.

    Ideally, you want an ECOG of 2 or under, for some it is simply not possible...


    Some views on Gerson... from Cancer organizations...

    This is a good previous post as well

  • Dr. Gerson believed food could be medicine (the right food). He also believed, cancer cells grow in a body that is toxic and deficient in the right nutrients and enzymes. Again, you make the judgment call and you decide what is right and what is wrong for you. To follow a Gerson Diet is extremely difficult and it could be very expensive. I personally follow the diet in moderation due to my GI issues.

  • Dr. Gerson first formulated his diet approach for cancer in 1928. He died in 1959. From the 1960's, the systematic modification of chemotherapeutic programs in children for acute leukaemias produced astonishing improvements in this hitherto almost always fatal disorder. We've since seen these dramatic improvements extending into adult acute and chronic leukaemia/lymphoma treatments.

    CLL has proven particularly difficult to treat with chemotherapy, with FCR being the first treatment that was recognised as actually extending life expectancy. We now have what look to be even more effective non-chemo treatments becoming available for CLL.

    There's no denying that CLL treatment has its risks, but because of very expensive adherence to trial protocols, we have excellent evidence that approved CLL treatments do cause partial and even complete remissions lasting in some cases over 10 years that do provide an improvement in the quality of life. There are many members that have shared their tough times going through treatment here and most of them are able to report how much better they feel after getting through their treatment.

    There's no doubt that some foods cause cancers - I referenced an article about that in my initial reply to Dalvernaz. There is also no doubt that some foods contain chemicals that are active against cancers, with for example, a scientific trial at Mayo Clinic showing that EGCG in green tea actually reduced the size of lymph nodes and the lymphocyte blood count in a majority of early stage patients with CLL. The problem is getting the active ingredient into contact with the cancerous cells in a high enough concentration to kill off the cancerous cells without overly impacting the rest of the body.

    Chemotherapy research actually got its start by identifying promising compounds for further research by exposing cancerous cells to a whole range of naturally occurring compounds, many of them derived from plants. We've now progressed to the stage where we can custom design molecules to specifically target particular body cells - e.g. monoclonal antibodies like Rituximab to kill of B-lymphocytes. That's a huge advance from the initial very limited successes. I don't see anywhere near that same improvement in effectiveness resulting from the refinement of Dr. Gerson's initial theory. Given the much greater time that Dr. Gerson and followers have had to demonstrate the effectiveness of his outlined approach, that has to say something. Also, as you noted, following the Gerson diet is difficult and expensive. There's a natural tendency to believe that if you invest a significant amount of money and effort, then it must be helping you. I'll readily admit that I have spent a great deal on green tea and turmeric and I think it is helping me, but I'm also a realist in acknowledging that the chronic nature of CLL, along with its variable and unpredictable nature, make it very hard to be definite that a particular regime is beneficial without a proper scientific trial.

    I think it is fantastic that many of our community members want to invest time and effort into programs to improve their life with CLL, but I also want them to put their money and effort into what is most likely going to provide them with the best chance of success with minimal and understood risks. One of the principal aims of this site is to provide members with reliable sources of information so that they can "make the judgement call and decide what is right and what is wrong for them". I certainly believe that we can do much to improve the quality of our lives with CLL by better looking after our bodies (which starts with better eating and exercise), but I see the Gerson diet as an extreme extension of the diet approach with a rather poor risk/reward ratio.


  • There are many so called "doctors" who have sold out to commercial interests. I am not a doctor, I just use reason. I've had people say that a certain television doctor, who has a license to practice, has recommended all sorts of quackery.

    Things to avoid: advice from a chiropractor, homeopathy, television and radio doctor personalities, faith healing, acupuncture, ancient practices, fad diets, and a lot of other nonsense. While some of these things will do nothing, they give false hope and can get expensive. Your hematologist / oncologist is the best person to ask questions. If one of them recommends any of the above; find someone reputable.

    If something sounds too good to be true it is suspect. Anything without the proper double blind studies and clinical trials which have been repeated numerous times in various labs should be suspect.

    Quackery has been around for ages and bilks the common person, offers false hope, and many times makes things worse.

    Be cautious: your health depends on it.

  • I want to thank each of you for taking the time to reply to me with thoughtful suggestions and links. I very much appreciate all of you and this forum. I am a 49 year old woman, living in Santa Cruz, California; diagnosed two months ago with CLL/SLL. (Stage 1; watch/wait). I have swollen lymph nodes in my abdomen. I am tired, but don't seem to have other symptoms, except for overwhelming, new anxiety. I will take your diet and exercise suggestions to heart. Good luck to all of you in the new year. DeAnne

  • Hi DeAnne, I've just posted about my diet in response to another post but will briefly recap - I've started eating as follows: no sugar, no gluten, no dairy; eating loads of veg and juiced veg too. I'm finding it really suits so far - less tired, no headaches or sinusitis, great skin, more energy. Not sure it's for everyone but I plan on keeping it up as I feel good for it.

    Am slowly building up to doing more exercise too. My excuse to date has been that I don't have time (with work and small children) but I think my body is telling me to make time!

    Hope you find something that helps you feel good.


  • firefly

    Are u dx CLL?

    How is your diet helping in better quality of life? I was dx cll 6 months ago. Am on W&W. I do not wakeup feeling fresh!! Horrible feeling of tiredness...


  • A couple of weeks back I made a change in diet just to see what effect it has. I stopped eating meat and cooked foods and switched over to mostly raw and - where possible - organic fruit and veg. For example, for lunch, I fill a bowl with baby spinach, avocado, red capsicum, tomato, salmon (from a tin), olives & mushrooms and a glug of balsamic vinegar. I also go to the gym twice a week where my personal trainer takes great delight in being cruel to me - I've been doing this for four years now.

    The diet change has made enormous difference for me at least. My energy levels have doubled and I feel far more alert.

    Most medical professionals will tell you that there is no difference between organic and supermarket foods in terms of vitamin and mineral content. Their studies may be perfectly valid however I suspect that the body uses far more of the fruit and veg than just the nutrients measured in the studies.

    As an illustration, I have an apricot tree at home which produces a bucket load of apricots over a 3 week period at the start of summer. There is a world of difference between my apricots and those you can pick up in a supermarket which are a pale imitation in comparison. Mine are sweet, full of flavor and so juicy that you end up wearing some of the apricot when you eat it (I love food you can wear). If there is this much difference in flavor, it would be reasonable to assume that the nutritional content may also differ. Presumably an apricot that ripens on the tree will collect more nutrients from the tree whilst it is ripening than an apricot that is picked green and ripens in the back of a truck or in a warehouse.

    If this is so for apricots, it would be reasonable to assume it is the case for other fruit and veg too.

    Anyway, I can highly recommend the change if you feel so motivated. Don't forget to follow the dietary change with exercise if you aren't doing any already.

  • Don't worry about what you eat. it probably doesn't make much difference to cll! I am keen on fitness when I'm not Ill though and to keep my weight down I avoid bread and pasta. Vegetables are the best foods. Dark chocolate is better than milk chocolate. Minimise processed foods. I have had aggressive CLL for 8 years so far since I was 38. I ran two marathons after six rounds of fcr....four months later. Nuts are good between meals.

  • Oh yes. If you are neutropenia you need to be careful with soft cheese etc

  • If you have neutropenia you want to avoid anything unpasterized, including honey... oh ya and raw nuts...

    You must adopt very strict kitchen food handling and use bleach on cutting boards etc... walk past the deli counters and fast food places... as well.

  • We read a great book called Anticancer A New Way of Life. By a brave physician named David Servan-Schreiber. I learned a lot from it, not just about diet. It improved my outlook towards my husband's condition.

  • I'll check it out. Thank you for your kind suggestion. DeAnne

  • which foods help in treatment of chronic lymphocytic luekemia?

You may also like...