December 11, 2009, Newsletter Issue #109: Feeding a Low White Blood Cell Count During Breast Cancer

Tip of the Week

Chemotherapy and radiation therapy may cause a low white blood cell count. As a result, breast cancer patients should pay special attention to reducing exposure to bacteria from foods. You may not be aware that certain ingredients may be dangerous, like raw eggs in Caesar salad dressing. Raw eggs should always be avoided in recipes. Other foods that harm are raw or undercooked meats, fish or vegetables. Unpasteurized juices, milk and milk products should also be avoided. Don't eat foods that sit out in salad bars, delicatessens, buffets and potluck dinners (even if the latter offends your favorite aunt). Never thaw food on the kitchen counter at room temperature before cooking it. Foods should be thawed in the refrigerator or microwave oven and cooked immediately. Always use a separate cutting board for meats and vegetables. Also, don't eat leftovers in the fridge that are more than 24 hours old. When you have a low white blood cell count during breast cancer, your body's immune system may not be able to fight infection, so it is important to lessen your exposure to infection-causing organisms in food.

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