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What should I Eat?

is the most common question asked by cancer patients.
Choose food and nutritional supplements which reduces adverse interactions with your cancer treatment and support them.

is the most common question asked by cancer patients. Choose food and nutritional supplements which reduces adverse interactions with your cancer treatment and support them.

Get your personalized nutrition plan for cancer at 

Get your personalized nutrition plan for cancer at

Which 3 Foods to Avoid for Hairy Cell Leukemia?

Mar 30, 2021

Highlights

No two cancers are the same and neither should your nutrition be. The most commonly asked question to dieticians and oncologists globally is “What Should I Eat?”. The answer is “It Depends”. It depends on the type of cancer, current treatment and supplements being taken, age, gender, BMI, lifestyle and any genetic information available. In short – the answer to “What Should I Eat” for Hairy Cell Leukemia needs to be personalized to minimize adverse interactions between nutrition (from foods/diet) and treatment, and to improve symptoms.

Foods like Basil and Blackberry should be eaten when undergoing Cladribine treatment for Hairy Cell Leukemia. On the other hand, for Hairy Cell Leukemia, Black Tea and Carrot should be eaten with treatment of Pentostatin. On the same lines, foods like Bell Pepper and Capers should be avoided with treatment of Cladribine for this cancer. If the treatment is Pentostatin, then avoid Amaranth and Cherry.

Vitamin B2 supplements do not show benefit on biochemical pathways that could improve the Cladribine or Pentostatin treatment efficacy in Hairy Cell Leukemia. Hence, avoid taking Vitamin B2 supplements with Cladribine or Pentostatin treatment for this cancer.

You get the point – your nutrition needs to be personalized and it needs to be re-evaluated as soon as any of the conditions change. Create and follow a nutrition plan personalized to you to minimize adverse interactions of nutrition for cancers like Hairy Cell Leukemia.



What is Hairy Cell Leukemia?

Hairy Cell Leukemia is a rare cancer in which the bone marrow makes too many B lymphocytes, a type of white blood cell. The incidence rate of this cancer is only 0.3 per 1 lakh people per year. This cancer is commonly diagnosed in people who are about 55 years of age, however, it can occur in people of any age. It is more commonly found in Ashkenazi Jews as compared to other ethnicities.

Hairy cell leukemia - symptoms, treatment, diet, foods

Hairy Cell Leukemia has prevalence of certain genetic changes. Some of the genes such as BRAF, KMT2C, CDKN1B, and CEBPA are known to have genetic abnormalities in this cancer resulting in a change of function. 

The genetic abnormalities found in Hairy Cell Leukemia can influence specific biochemical pathways to drive these cancer cells to aggressive growth and survive the ongoing treatment.  In addition, lifestyle conditions or habits like smoking, alcohol consumption and BMI (Body Mass Index) can have a big influence on the response to your physician prescribed treatments for Hairy Cell Leukemia. Numerous studies have consistently shown that your nutrition/diet – both food and nutritional supplements can adversely affect the treatment or be supportive or play no role. Hence, the triangulation of Hairy Cell Leukemia genomics, planned or ongoing therapies and lifestyle need to be thoroughly considered to make decisions on what foods and supplements to consider and avoid while designing diet/nutrition plan. Also, it is important to note that when any of these conditions change, like treatment or lifestyle or cancer diagnosis – it may impact the nutrition and the nutrition/diet plan for this cancer may have to be redesigned.

Why Eating Right Matters for Hairy Cell Leukemia?

In Hairy Cell Leukemia, activation or inhibition of some of the biochemical pathways including MAPK Signaling, Cell Cycle Checkpoints, MYC Signaling, RAS-RAF Signaling, Apoptosis and Cell Cycle plays an important role in driving the disease. All foods and nutritional supplements contain active ingredients which have a specific molecular action on different biochemical pathways. Hence, while the intake of certain foods and nutritional supplements as part of the diet may support a specific treatment of Hairy Cell Leukemia, eating few other foods and supplements may lead to adverse interactions with the treatment or may increase the cancer progression.

Example Foods to “Not Eat” and Eat with Cladribine treatment for Hairy Cell Leukemia

The nutrition for cancer always depends on the type of cancer, treatments and supplements being taken (if any), age, gender, BMI, lifestyle and any genetic information available. Here we show changes in nutrition/diet for Hairy Cell Leukemia considering only the treatment changes.

Foods to Avoid

Bell Pepper : Bell Pepper contains active ingredients such as Capsaicin, Retinol, Oleic Acid and others. Capsaicin interferes with the impact of Cladribine in Hairy Cell Leukemia by activating a specific biochemical pathway called MAPK Signaling. Hence, do not eat Bell Pepper with Cladribine treatment for this cancer. (S M Sweitzer et al, Pain., 2004; Caroline Smal et al, Biochem Pharmacol., 2007; Rajesh Belani et al, Hematol Oncol Clin North Am., 2006)

Capers : Capers contains active ingredients such as Folic Acid, Kaempferol, Oleic Acid and others. Folic Acid interferes with the impact of Cladribine in Hairy Cell Leukemia by blocking a specific biological process called Apoptosis. Hence, do not eat Capers with Cladribine treatment for this cancer. (R F Huang et al, J Nutr., 1999; Shanshan Cui et al, Mol Cell Biochem., 2018; James B Johnston et al, Leuk Lymphoma., 2011)

Foods to Eat

Basil :  Basil contains active ingredients like Betulinic Acid, Apigenin, D-limonene. Intake of Betulinic Acid along with Cladribine treatment for Hairy Cell Leukemia causes a decrease  in a specific biochemical pathway which is called  MAPK Signaling, and this is a very positive effect.  Basil hence should be eaten with Cladribine treatment for this cancer. (Lijuan Zhu et al, Biomed Pharmacother., 2018; Caroline Smal et al, Biochem Pharmacol., 2007; Rajesh Belani et al, Hematol Oncol Clin North Am., 2006)

Blackberry :  Blackberry contains active ingredients like Ellagic Acid, Kaempferol, Gallic Acid. Intake of Ellagic Acid along with Cladribine treatment for Hairy Cell Leukemia causes a decrease  in a specific biochemical pathway which is called  MAPK Signaling, and this is a very positive effect.  Blackberry hence should be eaten with Cladribine treatment for this cancer. (Jaganathan Kowshik et al, Anticancer Agents Med Chem., 2014; Caroline Smal et al, Biochem Pharmacol., 2007; Rajesh Belani et al, Hematol Oncol Clin North Am., 2006)

Should I take this Nutritional Supplement for Hairy Cell Leukemia?

Vitamin B2 : Vitamin B2 nutritional supplements have no interactions with Cladribine treatment. However, Vitamin B2 supplement does not show benefit on other biochemical pathways that could improve the Cladribine treatment efficacy in Hairy Cell Leukemia. Hence, avoid taking Vitamin B2 with Cladribine treatment for this cancer.

Example Foods to “Not Eat” and Eat with Pentostatin treatment for Hairy Cell Leukemia

Foods to Avoid

Amaranth : Amaranth contains active ingredients such as Folic Acid, Oleic Acid, Stigmasterol and others. Folic Acid interferes with the impact of Pentostatin in Hairy Cell Leukemia by blocking a specific biological process called Apoptosis. Hence, do not eat Amaranth with Pentostatin treatment for this cancer. (R F Huang et al, J Nutr., 1999; James B Johnston et al, Leuk Lymphoma., 2011)

Cherry : Cherry contains active ingredients such as Chrysin, Chlorogenic Acid, Oleic Acid and others. Chrysin interferes with the impact of Pentostatin in Hairy Cell Leukemia by activating a specific biochemical pathway called MYC Signaling. Hence, do not eat Cherry with Pentostatin treatment for this cancer. (Li-Rui Sun et al, Front Oncol., 2019; F A La Rosa et al, Mol Cell Biol., 1994; James B Johnston et al, Leuk Lymphoma., 2011; Evgeny Arons et al, Blood., 2016)

Foods to Eat

Black Tea :  Black Tea contains active ingredients like Lupeol, 3-hydroxyflavone, Caffeine. Intake of Lupeol along with Pentostatin treatment for Hairy Cell Leukemia causes a decrease  in a specific biochemical pathway which is called  Cell Cycle, and this is a very positive effect.  Black Tea hence should be eaten with Pentostatin treatment for this cancer. (Yan Liu et al, Technol Cancer Res Treat., 2016; Sayantan Bhattacharyya et al, Cell Oncol (Dordr)., 2017; James B Johnston et al, Leuk Lymphoma., 2011)

Carrot :  Carrot contains active ingredients like Lupeol, Retinol, Chlorogenic Acid. As mentioned above, the intake of Lupeol along with Pentostatin treatment for Hairy Cell Leukemia causes a decrease  in a specific biochemical pathway which is called  Cell Cycle, and this is a very positive effect.  Carrot hence should be eaten with Pentostatin treatment for this cancer. (Yan Liu et al, Technol Cancer Res Treat., 2016; Sayantan Bhattacharyya et al, Cell Oncol (Dordr)., 2017; James B Johnston et al, Leuk Lymphoma., 2011)

Should I take this Nutritional Supplement for Hairy Cell Leukemia?

Vitamin B2 : Vitamin B2 nutritional supplements have no interactions with Pentostatin treatment. Also, Vitamin B2 supplement does not show benefit on other biochemical pathways that could improve the Pentostatin treatment efficacy in Hairy Cell Leukemia. Hence, avoid taking Vitamin B2 with Pentostatin treatment for this cancer.

Top 10 Foods and Supplements to Avoid for Cancer

Go beyond same nutrition guidelines for everyone and make personalized decisions with confidence.

What are the Symptoms of this Cancer?

In the initial stages, most cancers including Hairy Cell Leukemia may not cause any signs or symptoms. However, as the disease progresses, the disease may start showing symptoms. 

Following are some of the signs and symptoms that may be caused by Hairy Cell Leukemia.

  • Fatigue and Weakness
  • Unintentional weight loss
  • Frequent fever/infections
  • Pale skin
  • Abdominal pain or swelling
  • Breathlessness
  • Bleeding/Bruising

Though many of these symptoms may also be caused by various other health conditions, consult your doctor if you experience these symptoms to rule out the possible chances of Hairy Cell Leukemia.

What are the Treatment Options for this Cancer?

The treatment for Hairy Cell Leukemia may be decided based on different factors including the stage and extent of spread of the cancer, cancer characteristics, symptoms, patient’s general health and medical history, whether the cancer can be removed completely by surgery and whether the cancer was just diagnosed or had come back. The treatment options for this cancer include:

  • Surgery
  • Chemotherapy
  • Other treatments like interferons
  • Targeted Therapy

As part of the diet, avoid including those foods and supplements that may adversely interact with the treatments for Hairy Cell Leukemia.

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In Conclusion

The two most important things to remember are that cancer treatments and nutrition are never the same for everyone. Nutrition/diet which includes food and nutritional supplements is an effective tool which is controlled by you, while facing cancer such as Hairy Cell Leukemia.

“What should I eat?” is the most frequently asked question to cancer dieticians and physicians. The right answer depends upon cancer type, underlying genomics, current treatments, any allergies, lifestyle information, and factors like BMI.

The addon personalized nutrition plan keeps you safe from adverse nutrition interactions.

Get started NOW with answering questions on type of cancer, current treatments, supplements, allergies, age group, gender, and lifestyle information.

Top 10 Foods and Supplements to Avoid for Cancer

Go beyond same nutrition guidelines for everyone and make personalized decisions with confidence.


Cancer patients often have to deal with different chemotherapy side effects which affect their quality of life and look out for alternative therapies for cancer. Taking the right nutrition and supplements based on scientific considerations (avoiding guesswork and random selection) is the best natural remedy for cancer and treatment related side-effects.