Medical Questions » Cancer Questions » Question No. 1254
Question:My sister is having chemotherapy for cancer. Is there anything to help reduce the side effects?
Answer:The good news for anyone having chemo is that nutrition can help reduce the unwanted effects and improve their general wellbeing. Dietary changes like reducing animal fat intake, eating plenty of fruit and vegetables, drinking 1.5 litres of water a day and avoiding coffee, tea, alcohol, sugar and processed foods help optimize your nutrient intake and reduce the load on your body.

Antioxidants, which help protect against the toxicity of the drugs, are particularly helpful, so I recommend taking an all-round antioxidant complex. I recommend one that contains Co-enzyme Q, since some types of chemotherapy drug deplete this important antioxidant. The digestive enzyme bromelain, found in pineapple, has been shown to improve tumour regression, given alongside chemotherapy. The researchers found that 2g a day was the most effective.

Other nutrients can help reduce any nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea. Try vitamin B6 (50mg). Glutamine is another possibility: not only has it helped on the digestive front, but it also has been shown to speed up recovery from chemo and to reduce the incidence of infection. But as it can also enhance the effectiveness of chemotherapy, note that it should only be used under medical supervision. If you' re given the go-ahead, you can find glutamine powder in health-food stores. Take 5 to 10g in water last thing at night; a well-heaped teaspoon is about 5g.

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