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Immune System Importance During Cancer Treatment

by Joe Lawrence October 20th, 2017 | Health Observance, Vitamins
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blood cellsOur bodies have an amazing immune system…most of the time. It is designed to thwart off bacteria before it enters our body and then attack what makes it past the outer defenses. However, when undergoing cancer treatment the integrity of this system is severely compromised, but there are some things we can do to help though.

***Disclaimer – consult your doctor before making any changes in diet**

Our body’s first line of defense is our skin as it keeps bacteria from entering the body. When we get an IV drip or a wound from surgery or anything else, a pathway is opened for possible infection. The obvious solution is to keep wounds properly dressed and clean our hands often. Use of a mild soap and warm water will be all that is needed as harsh soaps will actually dry out the skin and weaken it even more. The most important part of this process is the duration of the cleaning as most of us are not very good about this. Hand cleaning should last at least 20 seconds which does not sound long until a stopwatch suggests otherwise. A good unofficial timer is to sing “Happy Birthday” twice.¬†Another important measure is to avoid potential cuts. Things as simple as decorating the Christmas tree could break the skin barrier as we brush against the branches. Even cutting back our cuticles can weaken our defenses. Taking extra precautions like wearing long sleeves and gloves when performing routine tasks go a long way in preventing unneeded breaks in the skin.

The other major defense in the body is the digestive system. The stomach acid and bacteria in the intestines are very effective and, unfortunately, both are affected while treatment is underway. The meds can cause severe heartburn that we combat with antacids which attack the stomach’s ability to kill bad bacteria. This allows more bacteria than usual to enter the intestines which are already weakened from the meds. The best thing that can be done to boost the defenses before treatment is to take a probiotic. Yogurt is a natural provider of these healthy bacteria that fight the bad stuff away. Also, taking a supplemental probiotic is very effective. Consult a health store to see which would be best, and discuss the timing of ingesting these with your pharmacist. If you are taking an antibiotic, they could diminish the efficacy of either the drug or the probiotic.

It is extremely vital to be more cautious because the chemo and radiation actually lower the white blood cell count and weaken the immune system more than usual. Even before treatment the body is attacking the cancer and we are weaker and it only compounds when treatment is underway. A healthy diet as recommended by the treating physician is vital during the treatments and will go a long way in stabilizing the cell count as best as possible. Doing the few things suggested in this article, will help boost the defenses before, during, and after treatment.

 

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All health and medical information is provided for educational purposes and is not meant to replace the medical advice or treatment of your healthcare professional.