The benefits of chemotherapy are indisputable and can save someone’s life. Yet in the process of destroying harmful cancer cells, noncancerous cells may also be in the crossfire, leading to challenging side effects. The physician will provide instructions on what cancer patients need to do to minimize these effects, but it is just as important to know what not to do while undergoing chemo treatment.
What Should You Avoid During Chemotherapy?
- Strenuous work and exercise: This can include both mentally and physically taxing tasks, which could worsen stress, fatigue, mood swings and nausea.
- Probiotics: Probiotics contain beneficial yeast and bacteria, but skip them during chemo because of the body’s weakened immune system.
- Vitamins: A 2019 research study pointed to evidence of a reduction in chemo’s effectiveness and a significant decrease in the desired outcome by people who were taking certain vitamins (including B12, A, and C).
- Infections: Because the immune system is compromised during chemotherapy, it’s important to stay away from people who are sick.
- Alcohol: Alcohol can worsen the negative side effects of chemo, even in very small amounts.
- UV light: Limit exposure to sunlight and stay away from tanning beds, which can have a more severe effect on the skin in an individual receiving chemotherapy.
- Smoking: Smoking may cause hypoxia (a lack of oxygen) in cancer tumors and other parts of the body, which can impact the efficacy of chemo and worsen side effects.
There are also a number of types of foods to steer clear of during chemo treatment, including:
- Foods from bulk bins
- Raw honey
- Raw or soft-cooked eggs
- Hard, sharp foods such as potato chips, cookies, crackers, and granola
- Blue and other moldy cheeses
- Raw fish and shellfish
- Seville oranges and their juice
- Spicy and acidic foods and condiments
- Fresh salsa and salad dressing
- Raw nuts
- Grapefruits and grapefruit juice
While steering clear of the items above, the following action items can be beneficial during chemotherapy:
- Reduce the risk of infection by washing hands frequently, avoiding large crowds, and getting flu and COVID-19 vaccinations (if approved by the physician)
- Protect the skin from dryness and sensitivity through the use of gentle soap and moisturizing the skin often, wearing sunscreen, and selecting loose-fitting clothes and a hat when outdoors
- Lessen fatigue by arranging for transportation to and from chemo appointments and designating both the day of as well as the day after chemo as days of rest
- Mitigate appetite problems by eating smaller, more frequent meals (including plenty of protein), drinking at least 8 – 12 cups of water each day, and staying as physically active as you can to help increase appetite
Bear in mind that support is very important during cancer treatment. Build a solid network of friends and family and include a professional caregiver to ensure all needs – physical, emotional, and spiritual – will be met throughout this challenging time.
Cancer care can be complex. Let Generations at Home’s fully trained and experienced care professionals help. Contact us at 727-940-3414 for a complimentary in-home consultation today.