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Our Founding Research

The Cancer Nutrition Consortium was formed when a group of the nation’s leading cancer institutions teamed up to understand the issue of proper nutrition during cancer treatment, with a focus on improving the quality of life of cancer patients through nutrition.

The two-year, multi-site clinical study was the result of an unprecedented collaboration between seven of the world’s leading cancer centers.

The study focused on nutrition and food preferences among patients receiving cancer treatment. Specifically, patient preferences and issues related to their ability to eat and drink while undergoing cancer treatments, including chemotherapy and radiation.


A total of 1,203 surveys were collected and analyzed at seven medical centers:

  1. Mayo Clinic Cancer Center
  2. Dana Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center
  3. New York University Clinical Cancer Center
  4. University of Chicago Comprehensive Cancer Center
  5. Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins
  6. Cedars-Sinai/Samuel Oschin Comprehensive Cancer Institute
  7. Roswell Park Cancer Institute

Specifically, the research provides:

  • Profiles of patients on active cancer treatment, type of cancer and type of treatments
  • Eating drinking preferences, usage of supplements, activity levels and what precludes them from having healthy diets
  • A list of beverages and food dishes that appeal to them during treatment
  • Preference differences, if any, by type of cancer patient, demographics or behaviors

We found that eight out of ten patients avoided some types of foods, with 47% avoiding foods that they used to eat due to medical advice and 57% due to intolerance. Patients avoiding food most are those with less energy and those with unintentional weight losses, women and adults 18 to 74 years.

Almost all of the cancer patients have specific types of food they would prefer to eat. For instance, more than 50% of patients in treatment preferred poultry, vegetables, fish, fruits, pasta and soups. Patients with more energy were more likely to find more foods appealing.

Foods that were most appealing to patients fell into five main categories:

  1. Carb-heavy foods such as macaroni and cheese
  2. Comfort foods such as chili and soups
  3. Soft and creamy foods such as shakes and applesauce
  4. Meats, fish, fruits and vegetables
  5. “Sweets” such as cookies and ice cream

The Results

With this research we, with the aid of Certified Master Chefs and other culinary experts, set about creating recipes – which fit the criteria laid out in the research study.

  • Recipes need to be easy to prepare – do not require a lot of effort and each needs to fall into the categories of Soups, Salads and Entrees, Shakes, Sides and Desserts.
  • Soups, Salads and Entrees need to have more than 10 grams of protein per serving and have high nutrient content. Each serving should maximize calories by using healthy fats (olive oil, canola oil, nuts, etc). The goal is at least 200 calories per serving.
  • Sides should include nutrient dense vegetables (those that are rich in color), grains, pastas that maximize calories with a goal of at least 100 calories per serving.
  • Shakes should include at least 20 g of protein and 200 calories. Desserts should have at least 200 calories per serving but limit the amount of added sugars.

Chefs were given strict guidelines as to caloric, protein, sugar, and sodium intake per serving and recipes were then tested by CNC nutritionists – to certify that the recipes met the standards set forth by the CNC based on its research.

Recipes are created based on CNC research and development guidelines, which have been tested by CNC nutritionists, are eligible for the CNC Seal of Approval.