Among life threatening illnesses facing Kenyans today is cancer. Cancer has emerged the third killer disease after cardiovascular diseases and infectious diseases. This is having a major effect on the Kenyan economy and labor force.
The Medical Services Minister Hon. Prof Anyang’ Nyong’o who is also a prostate cancer survivor notes that having a healthy lifestyle and changing eating habits can help fight cancer. In 2010 the cancer related deaths recorded in Nairobi were 2,992 in a span of two years. Most cancer patients in Kenya are dying because of lack of treatment as a result of ignorance of the disease, late presentation and poor referral systems.
According to Nutritionist Yvonne Opanga, a graduate from Kenyatta University, food insecurity is a major contributing factor to poor management of cancer among cancer patients. This is because of inadequate intake of fruits and vegetables, which play a significant role in cancer treatment.
Generous intake of fresh fruits and vegetables whether fresh or as juices, reduces the risk of most types of cancers by 30-50%. This is because fruits and vegetables are rich in most micronutrients and cancer fighting elements like antioxidants, polyphenols, catechins, resveratol, anthocyanins and indules. Therefore, there is need to promote production and intake of fresh fruits and vegetables among Kenyan communities to help fight cancer.
Assured food security among cancer patients, enough production of foods and vegetables and behavior change regarding dietary practices among cancer patients, will reduce the mortality rates due to cancer and improve the quality of life among cancer patients in Kenya. Strategies to be considered include nutrition education, empowering urban dwellers to come up with multi storey gardens and kitchen gardens to grow fruits and vegetables.