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Preventing Foodborne Illness

People undergoing treatment for cancer can develop a weakened immune system because most anticancer drugs decrease the body's ability to make white blood cells, the cells that fight infection. That's why such people should be especially careful to avoid infections and foodborne illnesses.
 
Here are some tips to help you prevent foodborne illness:
 
  • Wash all raw fruits and vegetables well. If it can't be well washed (as with raspberries), avoid it. Scrub rough surfaces, like the skin of melons, prior to cutting.
     
  • Carefully wash your hands and food preparation surfaces (knives, cutting boards) before and after preparing food, especially after handling raw meat.
     
  • Thaw meat in the refrigerator, not on the kitchen counter.
     
  • Be sure to cook meat and eggs thoroughly.
     
  • Avoid raw shellfish and use only pasteurized or processed ciders and juices, and pasteurized milk and cheese.
     

Will Extra Vitamins and Minerals Help?

Many people with colon cancer want to know whether vitamins, minerals, or other dietary supplements (such as phytochemicals) will help "build them up" or help fight their cancer. We know that people who practice good nutrition during colon cancer treatment are better able to cope with their disease and any side effects. However, there is no scientific evidence that dietary supplements or herbal remedies can cure cancer or stop it from coming back.
 
You should depend on traditional, healthy foods for vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients. Talk to your doctor, nurse, registered dietitian, or a pharmacist before taking any vitamin or mineral supplements. Too much of some vitamins or minerals can be just as dangerous as too little. Large doses of some vitamins may even stop your cancer treatment from working the way it should. To avoid problems, don't take these products on your own. Follow your healthcare provider's guidance.
 
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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