Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The dietary post

Last Tuesday, as I was fading into my 4th working hour, my colleague S. popped into my office and sweetly asked whether or not I still wanted her to bring dinner for my family that night.  Still?  I had no idea that anyone was planning to bring me dinner that night.  Her face transformed into a wry smile as she told me I'd better check on the meal sign-up that the L family had set up for us.

Oh my goodness!  I can't believe everyone's kindness!  Folks have signed up to bring us supper every Tuesday and Friday throughout my chemotherapy program.  These meals are so much more than we expected, and they will be incredibly helpful to my family.  We are grateful.  

Related to the meals, I have been answering a lot of questions about my diet.  I've been a vegetarian for almost 15 years, and although this is ordinary for me, I recognize that many would-be chefs aren't sure what to do without meat in the meal.  I appreciate everyone's attempts to cook vegetarian for us.  Maybe you'll find a recipe that you'll add to your repertoire.  Also, I added a "recipe" tab above in which I am going to post recipes for the delivered meals (if the deliverers provide them to me).  The first recipe is the meal that was delivered last Friday night.  So tasty! 

I'm still taking a blood thinner (warfarin) to give my body a chance to dissolve the blood clot in my jugular vein.  This is relevant because vitamin K interferes with warfarin's ability to thin my blood.  I am therefore supposed to eat a consistent amount of vitamin K so that the dose of warfarin stays effective.  Note that I'm not supposed to avoid foods containing high amounts of vitamin K, such as kale and spinach, merely to eat them consistently.  The only time this is a challenge is the week after chemotherapy when eating in general is off the table.  My vitamin K consumption is probably somewhat consistent otherwise.  Salad season is upon us, so if my vitamin K consumption gradually increases my oncologist will be able to see that in my bloodwork and increase my dose of warfarin.  No worries.    

The major dietary bummer is that I can no longer drink tea.  I LOVE tea, especially green tea.  I have been drinking a cup of green tea nearly every day for several years.  The reason I can no longer drink tea is because it is high in antioxidants.  I am no longer supposed to take antioxidant supplements, and tea counts as a supplement.  Dr. Oncologist also told me to stop taking the daily vitamin that 3 years ago she told me to start taking.  

The explanation for this is rather ground-breaking.  Earlier this year a study was published showing that antioxidant supplementation of the mouse diet led to three-times larger tumors in mouse lung cancers.  Also, the antioxidant-supplemented mice died twice as fast.  

The scientific and medical community have been dancing around this conclusion for years.  Previous antioxidant supplement studies had not shown benefits in folks who already had cancer, and sometimes supplementation led to worse outcomes.  The paper published in January begins to define a mechanism for why lung cancer likes antioxidants, and I'm sure that studies with other cancers aren't far behind.   

To be clear, all of the research is focused on supplementary antioxidants.  There is no information to suggest that I should be avoiding foods that are high in antioxidants.  Besides, I still have a body full of healthy cells that I'm sure could use a few antioxidants now and then.  Dr. Oncologist says to eat my normal, healthy diet, and simply avoid supplementation with antioxidants.          

In the meantime, does anyone want my bottle of daily vitamins?  It's almost brand-new.  I also have a nice stash of tea, so when you come visit remind me to brew you a cup.  


  1. Thank you for explaining your diet again. The meals will be fantastic. Very interesting topic: antioxidants v. Lung cancer. Cancer research is amazing.

    1. I agree on all points, Hol, especially about how amazing modern medicine really is. I said something to this effect while the radiologist was inserting my PICC line, and he said I was amazing to have that kind of attitude. But it's true! I would be dead by now without the technology that has come from all of that glorious research.

  2. Ak, no tea???? Boo.
    I find the antioxidant research fascinating, for many reasons, and here you point out more. Thanks for the post!

  3. huh, who'da thunk the antioidant v. lung cancer thing? glad you are getting delicious foods!