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Nutrition is an important part of life, cancer treatment, recovery, and prevention. Food is one of the few things you can be in control of during your treatment. The oncology certified registered dietitians at the Stanford Cancer Center are here to help you make informed choices about nutrition, answer your nutrition-related questions, and help you to achieve and maintain good health.
Lactose intolerance in a condition in which your body cannot digest or absorb the milk sugar called lactose. This is usually due to a lack of an enzyme, called lactase, that helps to breakdown lactose so the body can digest it. Individuals with cancer often have lactose intolerance. Symptoms include diarrhea, gas, bloating, and stomach pain or cramps.
Dairy products such as milk, cheese, ice cream, yogurt, and sherbet contain lactose. Certain prepared foods have dairy products in them that also contain lactose. Many other foods may also have hidden sources of lactose. Check the labels of products to determine if they contain milk, milk by-products, or lactose. Look for terms such as:
Skim milk powder
Dry milk solids
Nonfat dry milk
These foods contain lactose and you should monitor your tolerance to them. Some foods that may have hidden sources of lactose include:
Cold cuts, and bologna
Sauces, gravies, and salad dressings
Chocolate drink mixes
Many individuals with lactose intolerance do not have to eliminate lactose-containing foods entirely from their diet because they produce small amounts of lactase. Lactose levels vary in foods. Hard cheeses and yogurt have the least amount of lactose. Learn how much lactose you can tolerate by trying one-fourth cup of milk and gradually increasing your intake. Because lactose intolerance is not an allergy, there are no long-term health problems if lactose is accidentally ingested by an individual. Symptoms will subside as the lactose moves through the digestive system.
The US Dietary Reference Intake (DRI) for calcium is 1,000 milligrams (mg) per day for adults to age 50. For adults over the age of 50, the recommendation increases to 1,200 milligrams of calcium per day. If you are not using milk or milk products, you may not be getting the appropriate amount of calcium needed to build and maintain strong bones and teeth. The following foods are good sources of calcium (a registered dietitian can also provide additional more suggestions):
Broccoli, cabbage, collard greens, kale, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts are all cruciferous vegetables. This vegetable family contains powerful phytochemicals, including carotenoids, indoles and glucosinolates and isothiocyanates, which have been studied and shown to slow the growth of many cancers.