Chemotherapy has undeniably life-saving effects on peoples’ lives. However, in the process of destroying harmful cancer cells, noncancerous cells can also be in the crossfire, causing challenging side effects. The doctor will give direction to help cancer patients minimize these effects, but it is just as important to know what not to do during chemo.
What Should You Avoid During Chemotherapy?
- Smoking: Smoking may cause hypoxia (a lack of oxygen) in cancer tumors and other parts of the body, which may impact the efficacy of chemo and worsen side effects.
- Vitamins: A 2019 research study pointed to evidence of a decrease in chemo’s effectiveness and a substantial reduction in the desired outcome by people who were taking certain vitamins (including B12, A, and C).
- Strenuous work and exercise: This includes both mentally and physically taxing tasks that could exacerbate stress, fatigue, nausea, and mood swings.
- Probiotics: Probiotics contain beneficial yeast and bacteria, but skip them during chemo due to the body’s weakened immune system.
- Alcohol: Alcohol can exacerbate the negative side effects of chemo, even in very small amounts.
- Infections: Because the immune system is compromised during chemotherapy, it’s important to stay away from those who are sick.
- UV light: Limit exposure to sunlight and stay away from tanning beds, which can have a far more severe impact on the skin in someone receiving chemotherapy.
There are also dietary restrictions to keep in mind during chemotherapy treatments, such as:
- Spicy and acidic foods and condiments
- Fresh salsa and salad dressing
- Foods from bulk bins
- Hard, sharp foods such as potato chips, cookies, crackers, and granola
- Grapefruits and grapefruit juice
- Raw fish and shellfish
- Blue and other moldy cheeses
- Seville oranges and their juice
- Raw or soft-cooked eggs
- Raw nuts
- Raw honey
What SHOULD You Do During Chemotherapy?
Now that you know what not to do during chemo, here are suggestions for helpful action items during chemotherapy:
- Protect the skin from dryness and sensitivity by using gentle soap and moisturizing the skin often, wearing sunscreen, and choosing loose-fitting clothes and a hat when outdoors
- 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 possibly can to help increase appetite
- Lessen fatigue by arranging for transportation to and from chemo appointments and designating both the day of and also the day after chemo as days of rest
- Reduce the chance of infection by washing hands frequently, avoiding large crowds, and getting flu and COVID-19 vaccinations (if approved by the physician)
Keep in mind that support is essential during cancer treatment. Build a strong network of family and friends and include a professional caregiver to make certain all needs – emotional, physical, and spiritual – will be met during this difficult time.
Cancer care can be complicated. Let JFS Care’s highly trained and experienced care professionals help! If you need home care services in your area, contact us at 213-383-2273 for a free in-home consultation today.