KU doctor offers tips for cancer patients to boost their immune system

KU Health System
Posted at 3:56 PM, Mar 24, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-24 16:56:48-04

KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Cancer patients are in the group of people at greatest risk for the coronavirus because of weakened immune systems from chemotherapy, radiation and medication.

With weakened immune systems, the body is not equipped to fight the intruder coronavirus. The chief medical officer at the University of Kansas Health System, Dr. Steve Stites, is offering tips to help cancer patients and others with immunocompromised conditions, such as heart disease, diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, lung disease and even pregnant women.

"There are natural things we can do to keep our immune system primed," Stites said.

Here are his top four tips:

Eat healthy
"Nutritional foods, including fruits and vegetables, will strengthen your body and provide the vitamins and minerals that will help your body fight diseases," Stites said.

Take vitamins daily
"Over-the-counter multi-vitamins are fine. Consult with your doctor for a specific vitamin regime that will help your condition," he said.

Exercise every day
"We want them to get outside sometime every day at some point to take a walk," Stites said. "If someone is coming toward you, then cross the street. Exercise boosts endorphins, which strengthens the immune system. By exercising, your body will exert more energy and be ready to relax and sleep at night."

Get restful sleep
"Turn off your television one hour before going to bed to relax your mind," Stites said. "Try reading a book to get your mind off the news. It will relax your body and put you in position to have quality sleep and wake up rested."