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Promoting Good Nutritional Habits for Ovarian Cancer Patients and Survivors
Ginger Muscalli, RD, LD , Clinical Nutrition Manager, Nutrition Clinic
A diagnosis of ovarian cancer tends to cause a re-evaluation of dietary and health practices. Many wonder — 1. "What caused this cancer to occur?" and 2. "What changes in my lifestyle should I be making?" Most women believe they must make significant dietary changes to ensure a good outcome. However, diet is only one of several factors that can affect the immune system. Exercise is as important as the diet. Both of these factors along with stress management will increase overall health and well-being.

There are no food or dietary supplements that will act as magic bullets to prevent ovarian cancer from returning. National Cancer Institute guidelines for cancer prevention can be used to decrease the chance of a recurrence.

These guidelines include:

  1. Increase intake of fruits, vegetables and whole grains
  2. Decrease fat intake to < 30% of calories
  3. Minimize intake of cured, pickled and smoked foods
  4. Achieve and maintain a healthy weight
  5. Consume alcoholic beverages in moderation, if at all

Fruits, vegetable and whole grains are known to contain phytochemicals with antioxidant, antiestrogen and chemopreventive properties that may prevent cancer. We recommend five or more serving of fruit and vegetables daily. Cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, kale, cabbage and brussel sprouts) are especially rich in phytochemicals. Whole grains are unprocessed foods that are high in complex carbohydrates, fiber, vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals. High fiber intakes may have a positive benefit by altering hormonal actions of ovarian and other hormonal-dependent cancers. Daily fiber intake should be 25-35 grams of insoluble and soluble fiber.

Important Plant Sources for Good Health
lant Family Examples
Grains Wheat, rye, oats, rice, corn, bulgur, barley
Green leafy vegetables Lettuce, spinach, swiss chard, endives, beet greens, romaine
Cruciferous vegetables Broccoli, cabbage, turnip, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, kohlorabi, bok choy, watercress, collards, kale, mustard greens, rutabaga
Umbelliferous vegetables Celery, parsley, fennel, carrots, parsnip
Allium vegetables Garlic, onion, shallots, chives, leek
Legumes Soybeans, peas, chickpeas, lima beans, peanut, carob, dried beans (kidney, mung, pinto, black-eyed), entils
Solanaceous vegetables Nightshade family: eggplant, tomatoes
Cucurbitaceous vegetables Gourd family: pumpkin, squash, cucumber, muskmelon, watermelon

Potential Cancer Fighters in Foods
Phytochemical Food Source
Isothiocyanates Cruciferous vegetables, mustard, horseradish
Phenolic compounds Garlic, green tea, soybeans, cereal grains, cruciferous, umbelliferous, solanaceous, cucurbitaceous vegetables, licorice root, flax seed
Flavanoids Most fruits and vegetables (cruciferous, umbelliferous, solanaceous, cucurbitaceous), citrus fruits, wine, green tea, onions, cereal grains, soybeans, flax seed
Mono-terpenes Garlic, citrus fruits, caraway seeds, umbelliferous, solanaceous, Cucurbitaceous vegetables, sage, camphor, dill, basil, mint
Organo-sulfides Garlic, onion, leeks, shallots, cruciferous vegetables
Isoflavones Soybeans, legumes, flax seed
Indoles Cruciferous vegetables
Carotenoids Dark yellow/orange/green vegetables and fruits

The Department of Nutrition can provide nutritional counseling at the Nutrition Clinic of Johns Hopkins Hospital or at Greenspring Station on a physician-referral basis by contacting (410) 955-6716 to set up an appointment with one of the qualified Registered Dietitians on staff.

Eating Hints for Cancer Patients (CancerNet)

Nutrition for Cancer Patients (CancerNet)

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