RUMFORD, Maine — A hospital dietitian on Wednesday debunked myths about avoiding cancer by eating certain foods and vitamins.
Justin Bakaian led a nutrition workshop at Rumford Hospital as part of a series sponsored by the Patrick Dempsey Center for Cancer Hope & Healing in Lewiston.
Speaking to a small group of cancer survivors and those who had family and friends coping with cancer, Bakaian said his goal was to “debunk myths heard on shows like ‘Dr. Oz.’”
“This is less about, ‘Eat lots of garlic and your cancer’s gone,’ and more about, ‘This is what we know,’” Bakaian said.
He debunked certain myths, such as the claim that vitamins and minerals will help combat prostate cancer. He said there’s not overwhelming evidence or research to support the claims that vitamins and minerals will reduce a person’s chance of being diagnosed or rediagnosed with cancer, but there are certain studies that pointed to it being true.
“With things like zinc and folic acid, studies actually showed an increased risk of getting cancer,” Bakaian said. “However, with vitamin E and D, studies showed a reduced risk.”
He said three to six alcoholic drinks per week can increase the risk of getting breast cancer or having a relapse by 15 percent.
“Doesn’t matter if it’s a 3- or 4-ounce glass of wine, your standard 12-ounce bottle of beer or a shot of liquor,” Bakaian said. “The problem is the alcohol itself.”
He suggested keeping alcoholic drink intake to three or fewer per week.
When it comes to research on cancer, Bakaian said there are “a lot of moving pieces” and “there’s a whole lot of information, but not a lot of answers.”
Bakaian kept the mood light throughout the presentation. At one point, when discussing whether garlic actually helps combat colorectal cancer, he joked that if “you eat a lot of garlic, you’ll be safe from vampires” and you should “make sure your date is eating garlic if you are too.”
“That’s my wife’s rule,” Bakaian added with a grin.
At the end of the presentation, Bakaian left one final piece of advice for those in attendance.
“When it’s all said and done, just eat real food,” Bakaian said. “Don’t eat the processed stuff you see advertised. Eat a balanced, nutritional meal.”