Mesothelioma restrictions on your diet can be looked at in a positive light. Knowing what not to eat and specifically what foods and beverages to avoid can help you feel your best at this difficult time. Undergoing mesothelioma treatment presents enough of its own challenges without adding any unnecessary ones. Here’s another positive note, there’s a lot that you can eat. With your healthcare team concerned about you keeping up your weight and your strength, the good news is you can enjoy eating a wide variety of foods. Mesothelioma restrictions are few and simple.
Mesothelioma Diet Restriction #1 – Skip Sushi
This mesothelioma restriction is all about keeping you safe. Infection is of special concern during mesothelioma treatment when the immune system is weak. Avoid foods that may contain levels of germs that are unsafe for your condition. Take extra precautions.
- when eating out, avoid salad bars; sushi; and raw or undercooked meat, fish (including shellfish), poultry, and eggs—these foods are more likely to contain harmful bacteria
- avoid raw honey, milk, and fruit juice, and choose pasteurized versions instead.
- wash your hands before eating or preparing foods. Wash vegetables and fruits well
- use special care in handling raw meats, fish, poultry, and eggs, keeping them away from other foods
- thoroughly clean all utensils, counter tops, cutting boards, and sponges that have contact with raw meat
- cook foods to proper temperatures. Meat, poultry, and seafood should be thoroughly cooked. Use a food thermometer to check the internal temperatures of meats before serving
- store foods in a refrigerator or freezer (below 40°F) right after buying them to limit the growth of germs
Mesothelioma Diet Restriction #2 – Back off on Bacon
Mesothelioma diet restrictions err on the side of caution for your sake. Avoiding foods known to be associated with cancer may be a good idea right now. Studies have linked eating large amounts of red meat and processed meats like bacon, hot dogs, and deli meats with increased risk of cancer. Some research suggests that frying, broiling, or grilling meats at very high temperatures creates chemicals that might increase the risk of some types of cancer (especially meats that are higher in fat and poultry with skin).
For these reasons, the American Cancer Society guidelines recommend limiting intake of processed and red meats and discourage cooking these and other higher fat sources of protein at high temperatures.
It’s true that no studies have looked at the effect of processed meat, meat cooked at high temperature, or meat in general on causing cancer to progress faster. But to optimize living with mesothelioma, why not back off on bacon and other processed meats like salami and ham? At the deli counter, you can opt for turkey, tuna or meatballs on your sub.
Mesothelioma Diet Restriction #3 – Avoid Alcohol
Restricting alcohol intake during mesothelioma treatment makes good sense for many reasons. So it’s best to find a way other than drinking spirits to boost your spirits. Even a little alcohol could interact with medications you are taking. Most of the drugs used to treat mesothelioma are broken down by the liver. Alcohol, by causing liver inflammation, could impair drug breakdown, increasing side effects.
Alcohol, even in the small amounts used in mouthwashes, can irritate mouth sores and even make them worse. If you have mouth sores, you may be advised to avoid or limit alcohol. It may also be best to avoid or limit alcohol if you are starting treatment that will put you at risk for mouth sores, such as head and neck radiation or many types of chemotherapy.
Another important point to keep in mind is that if you have lost weight during your mesothelioma treatment, smaller amounts of alcohol will have a greater effect.
Some experts consider alcohol to be both a toxin and a carcinogen and that’s something you don’t need in your system now.
Mesothelioma Dietary Restrictions Should be Determined By Your Doctor
These mesothelioma restrictions are just generalizations. Check with your doctor for dietary restrictions and suggestions tailored to your specific needs during mesothelioma treatment. Providing individualized nutritional advice can improve dietary intake and potentially decrease some of the toxicities associated with cancer treatments.
Consider asking your health care provider for a referral to see a registered dietitian (RD), preferably an RD who is also a certified specialist in oncology, to help you with nutrition-related challenges.
If an oncology dietitian is not available in the medical or surgical practice or medical center where you receive mesothelioma treatment and care, an appointment with a dietitian associated with their primary care provider clinic may be your best bet.