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Cancer Health Center

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Eating Well During Cancer Treatment

Focus on Food Safety

Some cancer treatments temporarily weaken your immune system. So it’s important to avoid germs that you can pick up from food. Contaminated food can make you quite sick. Here are some guidelines to help keep you safe.

  • Avoid cracked or unrefrigerated eggs.
  • Check expiration dates to avoid food spoilage, and throw away any moldy foods.
  • Cook all your meats until they're well done.
  • Don't buy bulk foods from open bins, like salad greens.
  • Keep all perishable foods in the fridge until you're ready to prepare them.
  • Prep your food on surfaces that are cleaned with soapy, hot water.
  • Use a separate cutting board for raw meat, fish, or poultry. Wash it thoroughly after each use.
  • Scrub and rinse fruits and vegetables thoroughly. Don’t eat any fruits or vegetables that you can’t wash easily, such as raspberries. Scrub the outsides, even if you don’t eat them, like the rind of a melon.

Talk to Your Doctor Before Taking Supplements

It may be tempting to take supplements to get the nutrients you need. But some herbal products and dietary supplements have been shown to interfere with cancer treatments. Even antioxidants like vitamin E may be risky in excess. Talk to your doctor about any supplements you take or plan to take. It’s best to meet with a dietitian if you're worried about falling short on any essential nutrients.

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Reviewed on October 22, 2012

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