When it comes to cancer and diet, myths have a way of getting in the way of the facts. So we talked with dietitians at Novant Health Cancer Institute in Charlotte to set the record straight about common misconceptions.

Soy is bad for breast cancer? Not true.

Research shows that whole soy foods (like soy milk, tofu and edamame) are beneficial.

Whole soy foods contain isoflavones, a phytonutrient that helps fight cancer. But just as we limit other processed foods, we do want to limit processed soy, including soy lecithin, soy flour and isolated or textured soy protein.


Specialized care for your cancer diagnosis

Learn More

Juice cleanses are a good idea? No.

Instead, listen to your body and ensure your diet includes plenty of protein, whole grains and fiber —much of which is lost when juicing or blending fruits and veggies.

Refined sugar feeds cancer? False.

Refined and added dietary sugars have been linked to chronic inflammation, which can lead to the formation of diseases from diabetes to cancer. However, sugar does not seek out and feed cancer, specifically, nor does it make cancer grow faster.

In fact, glucose, another word for sugar in your body, provides energy for all of the body’s cells — including brain cells, skin cells and cancerous cells. Without it, our bodies would not be able to function.

So, sugar is not “evil” – we simply eat too much of it, primarily in highly-refined carbohydrate foods and sodas. On the other hand, the natural sugars in fruits and vegetables are paired with vitamins, minerals and disease-fighting antioxidants — as well as fiber, which helps slow the release of sugar into your bloodstream.

Worth noting is the connection between obesity and cancer. Being overweight has been shown to increase the risk for a variety of cancers. So while there is no direct correlation between sugar and cancer cells, research shows that if we're consuming a lot of extra sugar, we're probably consuming a lot of extra calories, and this can cause excess weight gain.

Red wine helps fight cancer? Well…

In actuality, the risks of drinking alcohol outweigh the benefits. To see benefits from drinking red wine, you’d have to drink quite a bit, and at that point, you could be causing harm in other areas, like your liver.