Cancer & Food Safety Infographic

Food Safety for Cancer Patients

Cancer patients are at a greater risk of suffering from a foodborne illness because of their weakened immune systems.  Cancer treatments, such as radiation and chemotherapy, weaken the body’s immune system by affecting the blood cells that protect against disease and germs.  This condition is known as neutropenia.

As a result, their body cannot fight infection, foreign substances, and disease, as well as a healthy person’s body can.  Because of this higher risk, people with cancer or those preparing food for them must practice proper food-handling techniques to kill pathogens and avoid cross-contamination.  Foodborne illness, which is caused by eating food that contains harmful bacteria, parasites, or viruses, can be severe and sometimes deadly.  For example, cancer patients are 53% more likely to die from an adenovirus infection, whereas those with healthy immune systems rarely succumb to the virus.

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