What to Avoid During Chemotherapy


Learn what to do and what to avoid during chemotherapy.

The benefits of chemotherapy are irrefutable and can save someone’s life. However in the process of destroying harmful cancer cells, noncancerous cells may also be in the crossfire, leading to challenging side effects. The doctor will provide guidelines on what cancer patients should do to reduce these effects, but it is just as important to know what to avoid during chemotherapy.

What Should You Avoid During Chemotherapy?
  • Alcohol: Alcohol can exacerbate 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 far more severe impact on the skin in an individual receiving chemotherapy.
  • Vitamins: A 2019 study pointed to evidence of a decrease in chemo’s effectiveness and a substantial decrease in the desired outcome by those who were taking certain vitamins (including B12, A, and C).
  • Infections: Because the immune system is compromised during chemotherapy, it is a good idea to stay away from people who are sick.
  • Strenuous work and exercise: This can include both physically and mentally taxing tasks, which could exacerbate stress, fatigue, nausea, and mood swings.
  • Smoking: Smoking can lead to 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.
  • Probiotics: Probiotics contain beneficial yeast and bacteria, but skip them during chemo due to the body’s weakened immune system.

Additionally there are quite a few kinds of foods to steer clear of during chemo treatment, including:

  • Fresh salsa and salad dressing
  • Grapefruits and grapefruit juice
  • Seville oranges and their juice
  • Soft-cooked or raw eggs
  • Blue as well as other moldy cheeses
  • Spicy and acidic foods and condiments
  • Raw fish and shellfish
  • Raw honey
  • Foods from bulk bins
  • Hard, sharp foods such as potato chips, cookies, crackers, and granola
  • Raw nuts
Chemo To-Dos

While avoiding 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 doctor).
  • Lessen fatigue by arranging for transportation to and from chemo appointments and designating both the day of and 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 possibly can to help increase appetite.
  • Protect the skin from sensitivity and dryness by using gentle soap and moisturizing the skin often, wearing sunscreen, and selecting loose-fitting clothes and a hat when outdoors.

Keep in mind support is very important during cancer treatment. Build a strong network of friends and family and include a professional caregiver to make certain all needs – physical, emotional, and spiritual – will be met throughout this difficult time.

Cancer care can be complicated. Let CareWorks Health Services’ trained and experienced care professionals help. Reach out to us at (949) 859-4700 for a complimentary in-home consultation today to learn more about how we can help.