Nutrition 365 Blog
CANCER AND YOUR DIET: A Chocoholic's Challenge
7/23/2009 12:55:34 PM

I thought it was rather brave to expose my sometimes unhealthy eating habits (potato salad with every bite of gumbo) during my first rodeo writing a column. But not everyone appreciated my honesty.


“I read that column and you didn’t mention one thing about chocolate! You eat more chocolate than anyone I know and I didn’t see a thing about it in there!” Sherry McMinn exclaimed as she charged into my office after the column came out.


“Great!” I told her, “Now I have the start to my next column. Thanks!”


Cue fake grumbling from co-worker.


Sherry is actually a volunteer at Miles Perret Cancer Services. She coordinates the more than 800 volunteers who support our mission each year. She is also a cancer survivor.


Sherry will tell you that she shouldn’t be alive. Like so many people, she is managing her cancer with ongoing treatment. She will never be cured.


Soon after I got to Miles Perret, Sherry told me her story. She had breast cancer that metastasized to her brain. I can’t imagine Miles Perret Cancer Services without her. She’s a feisty, no-nonsense survivor who laughs easily and is ready to help whenever you need her. She also happens to like chocolate (now look who is being exposed!) and keeps a bowl of it on her desk.


And that gets me to the heart of the matter. It’s really her fault that I eat all that chocolate!


“There’s no correlation as we know it,” our Wellness Director said when I asked, “What do you know about chocolate and cancer?”


 “Small amounts of dark chocolate can be good for you because they are so high in antioxidants,” Carla Duhon said.


 Then she added, “But it’s not a food group!”  


So, try to stick with dark chocolate when you get a craving and also consider some of these tips to stay healthy and cancer-free.


1)      Fuel up on low-fat foods

Cutting down on fat is the most important step in preventing cancer as we age. Fatty foods boost the hormones estrogen and testosterone which promote cancer growth.


2)      Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables

Many compounds in plant foods boost your body’s immune system and repair and prevent cell damage. Eating a wide variety of fruits and vegetables daily is likely to be your best defense against cancer.


3)      Get your Vitamin D.

The latest research shows that having low levels of vitamin D increases your risk for many types of cancer. The best way to increase Vitamin D levels is through sunlight or supplements.


By the way, the candy bowl is gone, but every once in awhile I can hear Sherry saying, “You oughta see that girl (pointing toward my office), she eats some chocolate!” It makes me laugh and while there’s no proof, I think laughter should be #4 on this list for staying healthy. If you have questions or comments about wellness and cancer e-mail Julie Kelley at







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