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Nutr Cancer. 2017 Aug-Sep;69(6):962-968. doi: 10.1080/01635581.2017.1339094. Epub 2017 Jul 25.

Nutrition and Cancer: An Historical Perspective.-The Past, Present, and Future of Nutrition and Cancer. Part 2. Misunderstanding and Ignoring Nutrition.

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a Division of Nutritional Biochemistry , Cornell University , Oxford , New York , USA.


The role that nutrition plays in cancer development and treatment has received considerable attention in recent decades, but it still engenders considerable controversy. Within the cancer research and especially the clinical community, for example, nutritional factors are considered to play, at best, a secondary role. The role of nutrition in cancer development was noted by authorities as far back as the early 1800s, generally under the theory that cancer is "constitutional" in its origin, implying a complex, multifactorial, multistage etiology. Opponents of this idea insisted, rather vigorously, that cancer is a local unifactorial disease, best treated through surgery, with little attention paid to the etiology and possible prevention of cancer. This "local" theory, developed during the late 1700s and early 1800s, gradually included, in the late 1800s and early 1900s, chemotherapy and radiotherapy as treatment modalities, which now remain, along with surgery, as the basis of present-day cancer treatment. This highly reductionist paradigm left in its wake unfortunate consequences for the present day, which is the subject of this perspective.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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