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Safe eating during cancer treatment

Cancer treatment - eating safely; Chemotherapy - eating safely; Immunosuppression - eating safely; Low white blood cell count - eating safely; Neutropenia - eating safely

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When you have cancer, you need good nutrition to help keep your body strong. To do this you need to be aware of the foods you eat and how you prepare them. Use the information below to help you eat safely during your cancer treatment.

Be Careful What You Eat

Some raw foods can contain germs that can hurt you when cancer or treatment weakens your immune system. Ask your health care provider about how to eat well and safely.

Eggs can have a bacteria called Salmonella on their inside and outside. This is why eggs should be cooked completely before eating.

Be careful when you have dairy products:

Fruits and vegetables:

Do not eat raw honey. Eat only heat-treated honey. Avoid sweets that have creamy fillings.

Cook Foods Safely

When you cook, make sure you cook your food long enough.

Do not eat uncooked tofu. Cook tofu for at least 5 minutes.

When eating chicken and other poultry, cook to a temperature of 165°F (74°C). Use a food thermometer to measure the thickest part of the meat.

If you cook beef, lamb, pork, or venison:

When eating fish, oysters, and other shellfish:

Heat all casseroles to 165°F (73.9°C). Warm hot dogs and lunch meats to steaming before you eat them.

Be Careful When You Eat Out

When you dine out, stay away from:

Ask if all fruit juices are pasteurized.

Use only salad dressings, sauces, and salsas from single-serving packages. Eat out at times when restaurants are less crowded. Always ask for your food to be prepared fresh, even at fast food restaurants.

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References

National Cancer Institute website. Nutrition in cancer care (PDQ) - health professional version. www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/treatment/side-effects/appetite-loss/nutrition-hp-pdq. Updated November 11, 2017. Accessed February 16, 2018.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services website. Cook to the right temperature. www.foodsafety.gov/keep/basics/cook/index.html. Accessed February 16, 2018.

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Review Date: 1/31/2018  

Reviewed By: Todd Gersten, MD, Hematology/Oncology, Florida Cancer Specialists & Research Institute, Wellington, FL. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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