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Constipation and Breast Cancer

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It seems as though Oprah and Dr. Oz have made it acceptable to openly talk about bowel movements, or the lack thereof, so… Here goes… Let’s talk about poop.

For cancer patients, and anyone interested in staying healthy or reducing their risk of recurrence, maintaining a healthy immune system is of prime importance. The immune system is one of the ways our body fights disease, colds and flu. One of the best ways to have a healthy immune system is by keeping your bowels moving on a daily basis in order to rid your body of toxins. If however, you are constipated, it is harder for your immune system to do its job.

Have you ever noticed that after a meal of beef and potatoes you become lethargic, even sleepy? That’s because your body has to work overtime to digest and process that heavy meal. More than likely that steak will still be with you for days, even weeks after your small intestine absorbs the nutrients and then passes the remaining waste material on to your colon for ultimate disposal. If waste material is allowed to stay in your colon for prolonged periods of time it will literally rot! That is not the way to protect your body from harmful bacteria. One way to tell how long your food has been in your colon is by how often you poop: The more you poop the faster food moves through your colon and the stronger your immune system becomes.

Sometimes cancer treatment, stress, medication, surgery, change in diet, lack of water and decreased mobility can lead to serious constipation. Chemotherapy exaggerates constipation and diarrhea, whichever condition you are naturally prone to have. Do not wait until you are constipated or have diarrhea for more than a day to take action. My doctor suggested over-the-counter medications or an enema bag filled with equal parts of warm milk and molasses. The latter remedy worked immediately. If you cannot fix constipation on your own, you could wind-up in the emergency room where they may have to manually dig impacted feces out of your anus. I cannot think of anything more embarrassing but evidently it is not an uncommon occurrence.

Now let’s talk about being pro-active and staying regular.
In addition to drinking prune juice and eating plenty of fiber, immediately after I got home from each chemotherapy, I took a laxative for constipation and one each day until I had a bowel movement. After that my system functioned on its own without medication.

Proper nutrition plays a key role in keeping your immune system and your bowel movements in good working order. Fiber in the form of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grain bread and rice, oatmeal, shredded wheat, along with plenty of water and exercise, helps digested food move through your colon and out of your body. In addition you might consider drinking one of those probiotic dairy drinks that balance all the good and bad bacteria in your digestive system. I think they are terrific. One a day makes me regular as clockwork. (That’s probably more than you want to know about me.)