Benefits of Whey Protein Powder for Cancer Patients

Whey protein powder is most commonly associated with post workout routines but it has many benefits for cancer patients.


Whey is a protein derived from milk and contains powerful immune-enhancing nutrients such as lactoferrin, branched-chained amino acids and immunoglobulins. Whey protein is considered a complete protein containing all essential amino acids.


Glutathione is one of the body’s most important free radical scavengers and very important for our mitochondrial health. Undenatured Whey protein improves the production and availability of glutathione primarily by the intracellular conversion of the amino acid cysteine to glutathione.  This is significant for cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy as they have high levels of oxidative stress within their cells.  The production of glutathione is important for reducing the toxic and damaging effects of chemotherapy.

In a different capacity, results from one study indicated that whey protein concentrate may deplete tumour cells of glutathione and render them more vulnerable to chemotherapy.

Recovery and Repair

Patients undergoing chemotherapy require high quality protein for recovery and repair as a result of treatment.  Whey protein helps to reduce muscle loss and is a very absorbable form of protein.

Anti-Tumour Effect

Studies have shown that dietary supplementation of whey protein powder may exert an anti-tumour effect in some cancers.

How to Choose a Good Whey Protein Powder

All whey protein powders are not created equal.  There are factors that you need to consider when choosing a high-quality whey protein powder.

  • The whey protein powder that you choose should come from organically-raised, grass-fed cow’s.  This is to ensure that the whey is free of GMOs, pesticides and hormones.
  • Ensure that the whey protein powder that you choose is cold processed. Heat destroys whey’s molecular structure.
  • Your whey protein powder should be sweetened naturally and not with artificial flavour.

One final consideration is taste.  Many companies offer trial sizes of their product.  Take advantage of these and chose a product that you can enjoy!






Let’s Practice Safe Sun!

Welcome to August!

August may mark the ‘last’ month of summer but it has also been designated as Sun Awareness Month.

So let’s talk ‘Safe Sun’ shall we!

⁠Why is it important to talk about safe sun practices you ask?  Well it has a lot to do with the fact that the incidences of skin cancer has increased significantly over the past 25 years in Canada.

Skin cancer is divided in to 2 groups, melanoma and non-melanoma.

Melanoma skin cancer starts in the melanocyte cells of the skin. The melanocytes make melanin and it is melanin that gives skin its colour. Melanoma is the most serious form of skin cancer.

The second group is non-melanoma skin cancer comprising basal cell and squamous cell cancers.  These cancers are less serious types and make up about 95% of all skin cancers

Are You at Risk?

There are risk factors for skin cancer.  If you are at a higher risk, you can take the proper steps to protect yourself.

You may be at a higher risk for developing skin cancer if you have:

  • A personal or family history of melanoma
  • Many moles or moles that are unusually shaped or large
  • A susceptibility to burning easily in the sun
  • Light coloured skin, eyes, and hair
  • A history of excessive sun exposure
  • A disease or diseases that suppress your immune system

One of the main causes of skin cancer is over exposure to ultraviolet radiation from the sun.

The sun naturally gives out ultraviolet radiation. There are two main types of UV rays that can damage skin.

UVA Rays

  • UVA rays penetrate the skin more deeply than UVB and play a major part in the aging of our skin.  Think wrinkle rays:)  UVA rays can damage skin cells called keratinocytes. Basal and squamous cells are types of keratinocytes.  UVA rays can contribute to and possibly initiate the development of skin cancers.

UVB Rays

  • UVB rays cause skin reddening and sunburn damaging the skin’s more superficial epidermal layers. These rays play a key role in the development of skin cancer.  UVB rays can burn and damage your skin all year-round.  Even in the snowy winter months the snow and ice can reflect UVB rays and damage your skin.

Interesting facts to note

Your skin does not have to be in a blistering, peeling state to be considered burnt.  If your skin has gone red or pink it has been sunburnt⁠.

When your skin gets burnt, the UV radiation causes damage to the DNA of your skin cells and it is this damage that is the underlying cause of skin cancer⁠.

⁠You can reduce your risk of developing skin cancer with proper sun care aimed at avoiding harmful UV rays.

Here are 3 important tips to protect yourself

  1. Seek shade when the sun is at its highest point in the sky.  This is when it is strongest
  2. Cover up with clothing – wear a t-shirt, hat and sunglasses
  3. Apply sunscreen regularly with at least a SPF15. Use it generously and re-apply regularly



women, sex and cancer

Women, Sex and Cancer

Cancer treatments can have an impact on your sex life.  As a woman, having an understanding of changes that you may experience during the course of your care can help to prepare you and to ease your concerns.

Reproductive Issues

If you are in your reproductive years you should speak to your oncologist, before you begin treatment, about its possible impact on your fertility. Preserving fertility is a viable option in many cases.  It is important to discuss the options available to preserve fertility. women, sex and cancer

Pain or Discomfort During Intercourse

Pain or discomfort during intercourse can also be problematic for some women going through cancer treatment.

Here are some suggestions should this be an issue:

  •  Vaginal lubricants

There are natural vaginal lubricants on the market.  Seek out companies that offer organic oil or water based products.  These will help to increase the comfort of sexual activity.

Coconut oil may also be of use not only as a lubricant but also as an external vaginal moisturizer.

  • Pelvic floor therapy

Pelvic floor therapy for women is a type of physiotherapy that helps with relaxation to loosen tight, tender vaginal muscles resulting in reduced pain during intercourse.

  • Vaginal dilators

Vaginal dilators can help to relieve pain during penetration. They function to stretch the vagina and reduce tightness. They can be used in combination with pelvic floor therapy.


Additional side effects of cancer treatments that can inhibit your ability to enjoy sex include low libido, nausea and fatigue.

It is important to understand that in most cases side effects will be remedied once your treatments are completed.

It is also very important that you keep an open dialogue with your partner during this time.  Speaking to someone with experience in this area may be beneficial both individually and as a couple.

And do remember this.  Intimacy with your partner can be experience in ways other than sexual if, for the time being, a sexual relationship cannot be enjoyed.



July is Bladder Cancer Awareness Month

July is Bladder Cancer Awareness Month.

Bladder cancer is the 5th most common cancer in Canada.  It is the 4th most common among men and 12th most common cancer among women. It is estimated that approximately 9,000 Canadians are diagnosed with bladder cancer each year.

The Bladder

The bladder is part of the urinary system. It is a hollow organ in the pelvis that stores urine before it is eliminated from the body.

The bladder wall is made up of 3 main layers:

  1. The urothelium is the inner lining of the bladder. It is made up of urothelial cells. The urothelium is also called the transitional epithelium.
  2. The lamina propria (also called the submucosa) is the thin layer of connective tissue that surrounds the urothelium. It contains blood vessels, nerves and glands.
  3. The muscularis propria is the thick, outer muscle layer of the bladder. It is made up of 3 layers of smooth muscle.

Common Symptoms of Bladder Cancer

  • Pelvic Pain
  • Back Pain
  • Pain while urinating
  • Frequent urinating but only small amounts at a time
  • Blood in urine

Possible Causes of Bladder Cancer

Although one cannot conclude with absolute certainty the cause of bladder cancer, the following factors have been linked to the disease:

  • Smoking and other tobacco use
  • Exposure to chemicals
  • Radiation exposure
  • Dehydration
  • Parasitic infections

Tips for Preventing Bladder Cancer

There are obvious things that you can do to help prevent bladder cancer when some of the possible causes are known.  They include the cessation of  smoking and limiting exposure to radiation and chemicals.

Drinking lots of water encourages frequent urination.  This helps you to get rid of harmful chemicals that can build up in your bladder.

Added to this eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables lowers your risk for many types of cancer including bladder cancer.




not eating

Integrative Tips When You Can’t Eat During Cancer Treatment

It is not a failure nor is it a sign of weakness to take anti-nausea medications, called antiemetics, during cancer treatment. In fact, when warranted, you should take anti-nausea medications so that you can maintain caloric intake and stave off nutrient deficiencies.

Common drugs that may be used to prevent or control nausea and vomiting include:

  • Ondansetron
  • Dexamethasone
  • Lorazepam

When nausea strikes and food intake declines, it is important that you try and get easily digestible, nutrient dense foods and liquids in to your system to maintain weight and nutrient intake.

There are many natural strategies that you can use either individually or in combination to help you through this time.

Tips for Supporting Cancer Patients Who Don’t Feel Like Eating

Here are some tips that you can use when nausea strikes and you just don’t feel like eating:

  • Increase intake with fluids and electrolytes.  Adding a pinch of himalayan salt to water is a quick strategy to increase electrolytes
  • Cook vegetables and eat at a warm temperature
  • Decrease intake of raw foods as these can be harder to digest
  • Include nutrient dense smoothies in to your diet
  • Include bone broth in to your diet to increase intake of important minerals and gut healing nutrients
  • Consume ginger i.e. in tea form, in crystallized form, added to stir a fry and in homemade juices
  • Use peppermint i.e. in tea form, essential oils
  • Drink Chamomile tea to soothe an upset stomach
  • Avoid greasy or fried foods
  • Avoid foods with strong odours
  • Avoid spicy foods
  • Eat smaller more frequent meals
  • Acupuncture
  • Hypnosis
  • Muscle relaxation with guided imagery

Along with the above mentioned tips, I also recommend that you keep a food journal.  This can help you to identify and keep track of food that has both worked well in your diet and foods that have not.