Understanding Chemotherapy: A Guide for Patients and Families

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Weight gain

Some people, usually women, put on weight during chemo. We aren’t sure why this happens.

Whether you gain weight or not, good nutrition is very important during treatment. People who eat well cope with side effects better and are better able to fight infection. Their bodies can also rebuild healthy tissues faster.

Eating well during chemo means choosing a balanced diet that contains all the nutrients your body needs. You should include foods from each of the following food groups: fruits and vegetables; poultry, fish, and meat; cereals and breads; and dairy products. You also should take in enough calories to keep your weight up and, most importantly, enough protein to build and repair skin, hair, muscles, and organs.

You also may need to drink extra fluid to protect your bladder and kidneys during your treatment.

To learn more, please see Nutrition for the Person With Cancer During Treatment: A Guide for Patients and Families and Nutrition and Physical Activity During and After Cancer Treatment: Answers to Common Questions. Both can be read online or call us for free copies.


Last Medical Review: 03/07/2013
Last Revised: 03/07/2013