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Food Safety For Cancer Patients

food safety for cancer patients

Cancer Patients Should Make Food Safety A Priority

Did you know that people with cancer have to be extra careful about what they eat? It is more than just good nutrition that cancer patients must consider when putting food in their mouths. People with cancer must also pay careful attention to food-safety issues or risk developing severe health complications.

Some Cancer Patients Are At Risk Of Other Illnesses

Cancer patients who undergo chemotherapy and radiation therapy tend to have weakened immune systems. Cancer treatments can drastically reduce your white cells, a condition called neutropenia, making it very difficult to fight off and recover from illness.

In other words, when you have cancer and a weakened immune system, you are more likely to catch something, have a pretty bad case of whatever it is, and have a more difficult time recovering than others might.

Think about Covid-19.

We all know that people with weakened immune systems are in the greatest danger of catching, developing complications, and dying from the virus. Cancer patients and others like them have been warned to take measures to protect themselves, such as following guidelines for mask-wearing, social distancing, and avoiding individuals who may have been exposed to Covid.

How Does Foodborne Illness Affect Cancer Patients?

Foodborne illnesses, like other illnesses, can wreak havoc on the system of someone getting cancer treatments. The symptoms of food-related sickness can exacerbate the side effects of chemo treatments and put the patient in grave danger.

According to an infographic from the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), Foodsafety.gov, and Cancer.net, these are some symptoms of foodborne illness:

  • Fever
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Cramps
  • An upset stomach
  • Dehydration

These symptoms can be dangerous to someone getting cancer treatments. They can result in postponing treatments, hospitalization, complications from dehydration, weight loss, and pain.

The good news is that with some careful attention, most people can avoid contracting food-related illnesses, even if their immune system is compromised.

Ways to Avoid Getting Sick From Food-Related Illnesses

Foodborne illnesses can be bacterial or viral, and many can be avoided with proper food safety. Some of the most common food-related sicknesses in the US are E. Coli, Salmonella, Norovirus, Campylobacter, Listeria, and Hepatitis A.

There are ways to reduce your risk of contracting an illness from your food. Suggestions include:

  • Washing your hands often
  • Washing kitchen and dining areas often
  • Cooking foods to these safe internal temperatures (Fahrenheit)
  • Poultry- 165
  • Ground meat – 160
  • Beef, pork, lamb, veal – 145
  • Separating raw animal products from other foods
  • Chilling perishable foods within 2 hours

Sticking to these rules can help keep you and others safe from food-related sickness.

Another way to reduce your risk of getting sick from your food is to avoid certain foods altogether. The infographic referenced above suggests that people getting chemotherapy or radiation forgo the following:

  • Raw sprouts
  • Raw, undercooked, or runny eggs
  • Raw, unpasteurized milk
  • Raw or undercooked seafood, meat, and poultry
  • Soft cheeses made from raw, unpasteurized milk
  • Cold deli meats and cold hot dogs
  • Unwashed or poorly washed fresh vegetables

Avoiding these foods can significantly reduce your risk of getting sick, especially when your immune system is compromised from cancer treatments. We should all strive to eat a fairly well-balanced diet and practice food safety. However, for cancer patients, doing so can be critical to the success of their treatment plan.

Send Cancer Gift Baskets

At Rock the Treatment, we understand the importance of a healthy diet while getting cancer treatments.

This is one reason we pack our chemotherapy and radiation gift baskets with healthy and useful items for cancer patients. The gifts in our baskets – from the soft, fuzzy socks to the healthy, tasty treats- are selected to help ease the physical and emotional side effects of chemo and radiation.

If someone you love has cancer, send them a helpful cancer gift basket from Rock The Treatment. Chemotherapy and radiation gift baskets are packed with the essentials needed to ease side effects of treatment, as well as enhance physical and mental well-being. See all of our cancer care packages and find the one that best supports their journey.


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