One of the questions asked for this month's In Focus on diet was around veganism. Having searched for information on this topic I'm aware that there is a lot of discussion and controversy on the internet around this. The links I'm going to provide are from reputable sources and hopefully provide a balanced view. The information deals with cancer in general, it is very difficult to find reputable information on veganism specific to ovarian cancer.
As a general rule, I would be very wary of any person or organisation promoting a 'cure' for cancer. A reputable, responsible organisation or practitioner simply will not do this. Although there is evidence around certain dietary choices raising the risk for some cancers, currently there just isn't the evidence that any particular diet will cure cancer.
Vegan diets do not contain any animal products so protein, iron and calcium will need to come from sources other than meat and dairy. A well-balanced vegan diet will contain a wide variety of vegetables and fruits, plus legumes, beans, nuts and seeds. Dietary fats can be gained from vegetable, seed and nut oils. You may also need a vitamin B12 supplement.
If you are considering changing your diet significantly after cancer treatment, it is a good idea to ask your team for a referral to a specialist dietitian for advice. This is particularly important if, as mentioned in the last In Focus post on bowels, some of you will be following a low fibre diet. A vegan diet will be based on fibre-rich foods, so if you want to follow a vegan diet and you also need a low fibre diet you will need the advice of a specialist dietitian.
The Vegetarian Society and The Vegan Society have plenty of information, advice and food suggestions on their websites:
NHS Choices has information on how to ensure a healthy vegan diet here:
For those of you who like to read the research evidence, there is a systematic review of vegetarian and vegan diets and their impact on health here:
This review showed these diets can have an impact on reducing the incidence of cancer, but it didn't have any effect on mortality rates from cancer. This was broadly speaking across the cancers studied.
The NHS Knowledge Centre analysed the data behind the headlines reporting that vegetarians get less cancer in 2009. You can read their summary here: nhs.uk/news/cancer/vegetari...
Back in 2014, the Irish Nutrition and Dietetic Institute issued an emphatic statement refuting claims that vegan diets were preferable during chemotherapy:
The American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) has a straightforward summary on vegetarian and vegan diets here: aicr.org/patients-survivors...
The AICR recommend "Research shows that cancer survivors should follow the same diet recommendations as those for cancer prevention: a varied, plant-based diet. It does not appear that vegetarian or vegan diets are any more protective than plant-based diets that include moderate to small amounts of animal foods. AICR recommends that you fill your plate with 2/3 (or more) plant foods and 1/3 (or less) fish, poultry or meat, and dairy."
I hope this information is helpful.
Ovacome Support Service Manager