Why I Ride: Dr. Christopher Sweeney

Team Shawmut PMC

Since 1980, more than 88,000 cyclists have taken to Massachusetts’ roads for the Pan-Mass Challenge (PMC) to raise funds for cancer research and patient care at Dana-Farber. Among the riders are many patients, their family members, and their doctors. Christopher Sweeney, MBBS, medical oncologist in Dana-Farber’s Lank Center for Genitourinary Oncology, is one of them. We recently spoke with Dr. Sweeney about what motivates him to ride. Why did you start riding the PMC? In addition to treating patients with genitourinary cancers, particularly prostate and testicular cancer, I do clinical and translational research, with a focus on trying to find …

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What Is the Link Between Diet and Melanoma?

By Stacy Kennedy, MPH, RD When it comes to sun safety, lathering on sunscreen, sporting broad-brimmed hats and staying in the shade surely come to mind. But diet may also play a key role in the prevention of skin cancer and melanoma. Here is some information on the emerging research around obesity, antioxidant intake, vitamin D and other potential nutrition-related links to melanoma. Obesity & Melanoma At any age, maintaining a healthy weight is one of the most important strategies for cancer prevention, including melanoma. While there have not been many in-depth studies on the topic, obesity is emerging as …

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Does Sugar Feed Cancer?

Does sugar feed cancer?

By Stacy Kennedy, MPH, RD One of the most common questions we hear from our patients is, “does sugar feed cancer?”  As with most nutrition research, the answer to this seemingly simple question is actually quite complex. Overall, most of the research in sugar and cancer uses data from preliminary studies with animal and test tube data to draw conclusions. Recent research has looked at the details of an individual’s diet and sugar intake and how it may affect cancer risk or survivorship outcomes, but there have not been any randomized, controlled trials showing that sugar causes cancer. Let’s look …

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Should Cancer Patients Avoid Fish Oil?

PF_Salmon Dinner

When starting cancer treatment, patients often have many questions about diet and which foods may help, or hinder, their recovery. A recent study published in JAMA Oncology showed the omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil supplements reduced the effectiveness of chemotherapy in mice with cancer. We spoke with Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center Nutritionist Stacy Kennedy, MPH, RD, CSO, to learn more:   Should cancer patients avoid fish oil or certain kinds of fish during treatment? It’s important for patients to speak with their doctor and dietician about fish oil or any other supplement, and whether these supplements can affect …

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The Best Foods and Diet for Cancer Treatment and Survivorship


Regardless of diagnosis, nutrition is an important part of cancer treatment. Foods and diet can help maintain overall health, control side effects, and sometimes prevent future medical problems. “Good nutrition plays a key role in cancer prevention as well as survivorship,” says Stacy Kennedy, MPH, RD, CSO, a nutritionist with Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center. “We don’t have to strive for perfection in our diets, but making small changes to what we eat can make a big difference.” Read more: Foods that Help Ease Cancer-Related Nausea Debunking Common Nutrition Myths Kennedy recently addressed some important questions about cancer and nutrition …

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What to Eat When You Have Gastrointestinal Cancer

Maintaining a healthy diet is important during all stages of cancer treatment. But, for some gastrointestinal (GI) cancer patients, keeping up with a nutritious and well-rounded diet can be especially difficult. During treatment, patients with GI cancer may struggle with digestive problems, like constipation and diarrhea, along with the common side effects of treatment, like nausea and vomiting. Emily Biever, MS, RD, LDN, a nutritionist with Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center, recommends staying hydrated to help keep these symptoms in check. “GI patients often come in needing IV hydration, but this can be reduced by keeping up with fluids and …

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Five Tips for Staying Active this Winter


Staying active during the winter months can be difficult. Weather, packed holiday schedules, and fewer daylight hours can often get in the way of a regular fitness routine. For some cancer patients, lack of energy and a weakened immune system can also make it difficult to leave the house and stay active. But staying in shape doesn’t always have to mean heading to the gym or a fitness class. There are many exercises that can be done at home and adjusted to fit any skill or strength level. Nancy Campbell, MS, an exercise physiologist with Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, provides tips …

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Tuukka Rask, Nutrition Tips, Brokaw on Cancer, and More Video Highlights from 2014

Video highlights photo

As 2014 comes to a close, we’re taking a look back at some of our favorite videos from the last year:     Tom Brokaw: What it Means to Have Cancer NBC News’ Tom Brokaw, who was diagnosed with multiple myeloma in August 2013, stopped by Dana-Farber in November. We talked with him about his cancer experience and advice he has for fellow patients.   Why a Plant-Based Diet is Good for Your Health Eating a healthy, plant-based, balanced diet can help you manage your weight and may also help reduce your risk for developing certain cancers. Dana-Farber nutritionist Stacy …

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Five Questions About Vitamin D

Vitamin AisleSMALL

Sometimes known as the “sunshine vitamin” because it’s produced by the body in response to sunlight, vitamin D is important for maintaining strong bones and ensuring healthy functioning of the lungs, cardiovascular system, immune system, and brain. Because of concerns that excessive sun exposure can lead to skin cancer, some people may avoid spending much time outdoors – potentially lowering their vitamin D levels if they don’t get enough of the vitamin through diet or supplements. Here are some vitamin D basics:  How does vitamin D work in the body? It plays an important role in regulating the amounts of …

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Ask the Expert: Q&A on Breast Cancer, Exercise and Diet

Jennifer LigibelSMALL

Dana-Farber Cancer Institute’s Jennifer Ligibel, MD, recently partnered with CancerConnect to answer questions about breast cancer, exercise and diet. Ligibel is an oncologist with the Susan F. Smith Center for Women’s Cancers at Dana-Farber. Q: I am currently on maintenance treatment for breast cancer and I need to lose weight. Do you have any tips for how I can start? A: People are most successful when they start with an attainable goal. Studies have shown that smaller amount of weight loss, 5-10 percent of your starting body weight, can have many benefits, even if people can’t lose 50 pounds. Keep …

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