Weakened Immune System
If you are undergoing treatment for cancer, food safety can be especially important for you. Chemotherapy, radiation, and the impact of chronic illness can weaken your immune system. The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) offers special insights: "Cancer and its treatments can weaken your immune system — making you more susceptible to many types of infections. These infections include those that can be brought on by disease-causing bacteria and other pathogens that cause foodborne illness."
Foodborne Illness (Food Poisoning)
With this extra stress on the body's immune system, anyone who has cancer is more likely to have a lengthier illness, undergo hospitalization, or even die from a foodborne illness, explains the USDA. This means food safety and food handling are crucial. They're an important way to protect your health.
During cancer treatment, you may also experience changes in your appetite, sense of taste, or ability to tolerate and enjoy certain foods. Side effects such as dry mouth, sore mouth, difficulty swallowing foods, and nausea are common. You may lose weight from symptoms or treatments, and become at risk for malnutrition. Malnutrition itself weakens the immune system, too.
Your Registered Dietitian can help you plan dietary changes that will make eating more enjoyable and protect your nutritional well-being. Many people in stages of cancer treatment turn to cool, smooth, high-protein beverages as part of their nutrition routine. Fresh eggs, as an economical and versatile protein source, may become part of your favorite shakes, smoothies, eggnog, or custards. You can even add them to foods like mashed potatoes—or just make egg entrees for dinner—if you are not enjoying meat.
Homemade eggnog, raw cookie dough, egg-based salad dressings, and any form of raw or undercooked eggs always carries the risk of Salmonella bacteria and foodborne illness. You can enjoy any of your favorite egg-based nutritious foods by choosing Safest Choice™ Pasteurized Eggs as a main ingredient.
Boost Your Nutrition with Eggs
The National Cancer Institute offers tips for boosting your nutrition with eggs:
- Add chopped hard-boiled eggs to salads, salad dressings, vegetables, casseroles, and creamed meats
- Make rich custard with eggs, milk, and sugar.
- Add extra hard-boiled yolks to deviled egg filling and sandwich spread
- Beat eggs into mashed potatoes, pureed vegetables, and sauces.
- Add extra eggs or egg whites to:
- Scrambled eggs
- Pancake or French toast batter
Choosing pasteurized eggs in any recipe that calls for raw or undercooked eggs is the advice of the USDA for anyone undergoing cancer treatment. It makes sense. You can help protect yourself from foodborne illness and tap into the versatile nutrition of fresh eggs at the same time... a great recipe for your optimum health.
For more ideas about food safety during cancer treatment, see Food Safety for People with Cancer.
For information about nutrition and cancer, see Eating Hints: Before, During, and After Cancer Treatment.