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What Food Should Lung Cancer Patients Avoid?

Cancer leaves a lasting impact on every part of an individual’s body, irrespective of what type of cancer is detected. It can impact your relationship with food, reduce appetite and even create food aversions that were non-existent prior to the diagnosis and treatment process.

Given that around 1.8 million people worldwide succumb to lung cancer every year, it is no doubt one of the most fatal forms of cancer known to medicine. Since diet plays a crucial role in our physiological functions, prioritizing foods that prevent lung cancer is necessary.

But, which foods should you avoid and why? We will discuss more on the worst foods for lung cancer and what you can replace those with for a healthier life. What Foods Help Repair Lungs After Lung Transplant?

Does Lung Cancer Treatment Affect the Patient’s Diet?

If you are diagnosed with lung cancer and are undergoing chemotherapy and/or radiotherapy, the most common side effects often include reduced appetite and aversion towards some food.

Almost every type of cancer treatment directly impacts a patient’s diet and not for the better. Following are some of the factors you have to keep in mind:

  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Fatigue
  • Loss of taste
  • Reduced appetite
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

The changes in one’s diet also depend on the type of cancer one has and the kind of treatment they are undergoing.

What Food Should Lung Cancer Patients Avoid

Which Foods Should You Avoid with Lung Cancer?

Being diagnosed with lung cancer is terrifying in itself. The last thing any patient wants is to exacerbate the situation. So, prioritizing lung cancer foods to avoid is essential for optimal health and potential recovery after the treatment.

Following are the top foods you should avoid if you are at risk of developing lung cancer or if you are already diagnosed with lung cancer:

1. Avoid Deli Meat or Uncooked Sushi

When it comes to lung cancer, most patients are often subjected to risks of infections due to ongoing cancer treatments.

Since most lung cancer patients are immunocompromised due to chemotherapy or radiotherapy, consuming deli meat or raw fish in sushi can further elevate the risks of infection.

Most deli meats like dry-cured salami, uncooked sausages, cold cuts, etc. have a high risk of containing listeria bacteria, which can lead to active infection in the body.

The same goes for uncooked or raw sushi fish like salmon and tuna. Even if you are considering getting it from the finest restaurants, it is better to put them on the list of lung infection food to avoid since they might have bacteria and parasites in them.

2. Be Careful with Eggs

Eggs are safe, right? Although they might be considered one of the best foods to prevent lung cancer, as a lung cancer patient, you have to tread with caution.

Most eggs, even the ones with the cleanest shells, might carry salmonella bacteria in them. So, when you are eating eggs, ensure that you are cooking them all the way through.

So, soft-boiled eggs or sunny-side-up eggs aren’t the most favorable when it comes to eating eggs, be it for your breakfast or even lunch. Food poisoning might not be fatal in normal cases but it is not favorable for lung cancer patients. Also, avoid raw eggs that are often added to salad dressings or condiments.

3. Raw Vegetable Sprouts

In normal cases, you’d think that raw vegetable sprouts are safe and healthy for consumption. But, it’s not the case when you are planning a diet to prevent lung cancer.

Sprouts like alfalfa, broccoli, bean sprouts, etc. pack in a lot of healthy nutrients but they are also a breeding ground for bacteria.

Since sprouts need a warm and humid environment to grow, it also poses an optimal condition for the bacteria to thrive there. So, if you are undergoing lung cancer treatment, it is ideal to avoid sprouts until you get clearance from your doctor.

4. Extremely Salty Foods (High Sodium)

A high sodium diet is an absolute NO in patients with lung cancer since it leads to risks of fluid retention in the body, including the legs, hands, and lungs.

Excess fluid retention, especially in the lungs, can exacerbate the symptoms of lung cancer, leading to shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, chest tightness, etc.

At Medanta, Dr. Arvind Kumar will often connect the patients with a registered dietician to better figure out an ideal diet that works for the patient. A well-curated and medically approved diet can support the patient’s well-being while they are undergoing the tedious rounds of chemo and radiation.

5. Carbonated Beverages

Soda, in any and every form, isn’t ideal for cancer patients, especially lung cancer patients. Most carbonated beverages contain carbon dioxide in them, which can lead to risks of bloating and gas.

Sometimes, the prolonged signs of bloating can put pressure on the lungs, leading to problems related to breathing or feeling tightness in and around the chest.

If you are looking for the best foods to eat to prevent lung cancer, we’d recommend switching your carbonated beverages to plain water. For an elevated flavor, you might infuse the water with lemons, cucumbers, etc. Besides that, a cup or two of herbal tea works great too.

6. Fried Foods

You must be thinking, “Why is fried food bad for lung cancer?”

Well, there are two main reasons why our team of lung cancer specialists at Medanta advise our lung cancer patients to avoid fried and junk food throughout the duration of the treatment:

Fried foods contain unhealthy and saturated fats in them, which can lead to bloating and abdominal discomfort. The bloating often causes pressure in the lungs, leading to tightness in the chest and difficulty breathing.

Besides that, fried foods also contribute to elevated risks of high cholesterol levels, weight gain, etc., which aren’t favorable for patients battling lung cancer.

Ideally, we’d recommend choosing healthier alternatives instead of frequenting fast-food joints. You can always make your version of “fast food” at home to enjoy the meal without any complications. What foods should lung transplant patients avoid?


What you put into your body during lung cancer treatment makes a huge difference in the impacts of the treatment and eventual recovery. At Medanta, Dr. Arvind prioritizes holistic treatment and recovery of his lung cancer patients, with special emphasis on diet. Since food is the fuel our body uses to keep it energized and going, eating the right kind of food makes a huge difference in the overall well-being of a patient.

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Although not bad, excessive consumption of chocolate isn’t encouraged during lung cancer treatment. Chocolate contains sugar, and caffeine and doesn’t have healthy nutrients, all of which aren’t favorable for a lung cancer patient.

Dairy products, in smaller amounts, are safe for consumption during lung cancer treatment. However, dairy digestion in the body leads to the formation of casomorphin, a compound that triggers the release of phlegm and mucus in the body. This can worsen the symptoms of coughing, shortness of breath, wheezing, etc. in lung cancer patients.

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