The word inflammation may bring up immediate thoughts of a swollen ankle or redness around a new cut or scrape. 

That is good inflammation. It’s your body’s response to an acute attack to help in the healing process, fighting off pathogens, even fighting off new tumor cells.

But when inflammation becomes chronic inflammation, inflammation itself becomes a real problem.

Chronic inflammation causes so much more than just aches and pain. 

It causes the body to function sub-optimally, can cause a loss of energy, and in the brain it has even been tied to degenerative brain disease and depression.

Sometimes the body mistakenly perceives its own cells as being harmful leading to autoimmune conditions such as type 1 diabetes, lupus, psoriasis, allergies and rheumatoid arthritis. 

Chronic inflammation is a big deal. And no less so for cancer.

The Link between Cancer Risk and Recovery, and Chronic Inflammation

As a naturopathic oncologist, I often deal with the impact of inflammation on patients going through treatment, recovering from treatment, or trying to prevent recurrence.

A body inflamed is a body not functioning optimally, including a compromised immune system..

And when it comes to preventing and fighting cancer, we need our body in top shape.

“Prolonged inflammation can damage your body’s healthy cells and tissue, and weaken your immune system,” says Karla Crawford, a senior clinical dietitian in MD Anderson’s Integrative Medicine Center. 

The National Cancer Institute includes chronic inflammation in its risk factors for cancer causes and prevention, including stating how “Over time, chronic inflammation can cause DNA damage and lead to cancer.”

The key here is “chronic” inflammation. As described in this paper – “Chronic inflammation facilitates tumor progression and treatment resistance…”

Research scientists are even showing promising research showing that reducing inflammation can help fight cancer, and contribute to shrinking tumors.

So how can you leverage reducing your chronic inflammation?

The Key for Reducing Chronic Inflammation Often Starts with the Food We Eat

Nutrition can play a large part in how your body heals from inflammation. 

For example, the Anti-inflammatory Diet focuses on incorporating high amounts of plant-based Mediterranean foods and eliminating foods that are processed as well as common food irritants such as dairy, gluten, eggs, red meat, pork, peanuts, corn, tomatoes, potatoes and citrus fruits. 

Meanwhile, foods such as extra virgin olive oil, high fiber foods, leafy greens, berries, beans and legumes, grains (rice, millet, oatmeal, buckwheat), quinoa, chicken, turkey and fatty fish can be enjoyed thoroughly.

Some of my favorite anti-inflammatory foods included in this diet are:

  1. Mushrooms (button, shitake, maitake, crimini, etc): promote vascular health and immune system balancing.  Recommend at least 1 cup raw or ½ cup cooked daily.
  2. Garlic: antibacterial, antiviral, and stimulates immunity.  Recommend 1-3 cloves daily.
  3. Berries (raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, strawberries): high in antioxidants and immune balancing.  Recommend at least 1 cup of berries daily.
  4. Turmeric: anti-inflammatory and enhances detoxification.  Golden tea (recipe below) is a great way to get in some turmeric on a daily basis.  Recommend 1-3 TBSP daily.
  5. Cruciferous veggies: anti-inflammatory and enhances liver detoxification.  Recommend at least 1 cup raw, ½ cup cooked daily.
  6. Fatty fish: rich in omega-3s that balance your immunity and anti-inflammatory.  Recommend 6 ounces of cooked fatty fish at least 2 times weekly.

You also want to avoid foods that may aggravate symptoms such as fried food, highly processed foods, trans and saturated fats, partially hydrogenated oils, foods and drinks with added sugar, MSG and artificial dyes and flavors.

And if you really want to hit chronic inflammation from all sides, healthy movement, stress management, improving sleep, and even meditation can all contribute greatly!

Achieving Success with Anti-Inflammatory Foods is Uniquely Personal

Addressing diet takes an individualized approach, there may be foods that cause inflammation in you that may not in your neighbor. 

The tips I provided are commonly effective, but everyone is a little different.

A common test I run with my naturopathic oncology patients is a food sensitivity test.

We look at which foods may cause a delayed immune response.  If interested I would encourage you to talk to your doctor about having this test done.  

And for a final bonus, this tea is both delicious and powerful addition to your anti-inflammatory arsenal.

If you’re going through cancer treatment, or are wanting to prevent it from occurring or reoccuring, then schedule an initial consult »

Or explore this site to see how I can help be an integral part of your cancer success team.

Golden Tea (Aka Turmeric Tea) Recipe

  1. Heat 2 cups milk of choice (almond, coconut, hemp)
  2. Add ½ inch peeled, minced fresh ginger
  3. Add ½ inch peeled, minced fresh turmeric (powdered is fine too)
  4. Add 3-4 whole black peppercorns
  5. Simmer for 10 minutes. Strain. Sweeten to taste (honey, maple syrup).

And enjoy!

*This is for informational purposes only. If you have any questions then please consult with your healthcare professional.*

Dr. McMurry sees patients for integrative cancer treatment by telemedicine.  To find more healthy tips visit her blog at