Nutrition, Exercise, and Other Lifestyle Changes During Ovarian Cancer Treatment
Because certain cancer treatments weaken the immune system, it is important to avoid eating foods that may contain unsafe levels of germs. Proper food-handling tips include:
- Wash fruits and vegetables thoroughly
- Store foods at the right temperatures
- Wash your hands before eating or preparing foods
- Take precaution when handling raw meats, fish, poultry, and eggs
- Cook foods to proper temperatures
- Avoid raw milk and honey -- use pasteurized versions instead
- When going out for meals, avoid salad bars, sushi, and undercooked meat.
Studies have shown that exercise is not only safe during cancer treatment, but it can combat fatigue, anxiety, and depression, and also improve the quality of life. If you exercised prior to your ovarian cancer diagnosis, however, you may have to lower the intensity and go at a little slower pace. Exercising during cancer treatment should be at a moderate pace, just enough to at least stay active -- don't overdo it!
Some of the benefits that exercise can have during cancer treatment include:
- Reducing nausea
- Decreasing the risk for blood clots due to improved blood flow to your legs
- Improving balance, reducing the risk for falls and broken bones
- Preventing muscle loss due to inactivity
- Boosting "good-feeling" endorphins, which help you feel better physically and emotionally
- Reducing fatigue (tiredness)
- Minimizing symptoms of depression or anxiety.
Although moderate exercise can be beneficial, there are some things that may affect your ability to exercise during cancer treatment. For example:
- Those who are undergoing radiation treatment may need to avoid swimming pools, as the chlorine can irritate the skin at the treatment area
- Going through cancer treatment can weaken your immune system, so you may want to avoid public gyms until your white blood cell counts are at a normal level
- If you have low red blood cell counts (anemia), you may want to wait to exercise until your levels are back up
- If you have had a lot of vomiting or diarrhea, you may have low blood levels of sodium and potassium, which may need to return to normal before you can exercise.
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