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Frequently Asked Questions


Q - My chemotherapy has caused burning in my bladder and urinary tract. It is so painful that I cannot continue chemotherapy until this is resolved. Are there foods that will help make my urine alkaline to help stop this misery?

Thank you for writing. I am so sorry to hear of your troubles. I can only imagine your difficulty. Here is the list of foods that cause an acid or alkaline urine. Focus on the alkaline foods.

Potentially ACID or ACID-ASH Foods:

Meat/Meat analogs - all meat (beef, pork, etc.), fish, fowl, shellfish, eggs
All types of cheese, peanut butter, peanuts
Fat - bacon, nuts (brazil, filberts, walnuts)
Starch - All types of bread (especially whole wheat), cereal, crackers, pasta, noodles, etc.
Vegetables - corn, lentils
Fruits - cranberries, plums, prunes
Desserts - plain cakes, cookies

Potentially ALKALINE or ALKALINE-ASH Foods:

Milk - milk and milk products, cream, buttermilk
Fats - nuts (almonds, chestnuts, coconut)
Vegetables - All types (except corn & lentils), especially beets, beet greens, Swiss chard, dandelion greens, kale, mustard greens, spinach, turnip greens
Fruit - all types except cranberries, plums, and prunes
Sweets - molasses

Neutral Foods:

Fats - butter, margarine, cooking fats, oils
Sweets - plain candies, sugar, syrup, honey
Starches - arrowroot, tapioca
Beverages - coffee, tea

However, I wonder if you would also benefit from a diet that is trying to reduce all stimulants to bladder tissue, such as a diet used by people who have cystitis (inflammation) of bladder tissue without an infection, which is called interstitial cystitis (IC). This list of foods came from a web site focused on IC.

Caffeine -tea, coffee, chocolate, cola, drinks, any medication containing caffeine (Tylenol #1, #2, and #3)
Aspirin - any medication containing aspirin, including Entrophen
Carbonated Beverages - if you allow the beverage to go flat, it may be less irritating
Alcohol - or anything containing alcohol
MSG (Monosodium Glutamate)
Aspartame - or any artificial sweetener
Sugar - some natural sugars (fruit, honey) may be tolerated but sweets should be curtailed
Citrus Fruits - oranges, grapefruit, lemons, limes, tomatoes
Highly spiced foods - processed meats, hot spicy dishes
Megadoses of Vitamin Supplements
Ascorbic Acid and Citric Acid
Aged or Fermented Foods - strong cheese, yogurt, sour cream

Other foods that may affect I.C. symptoms are:

Peanut butter

For alternative beverages, try low acid orange juice and herb teas.

I have also seen recommendations to avoid soybeans on some web sites focused on helping people reduce symptoms of interstitial cystitis.

I would also suggest trying to use a product called Prelief that reduces acid in foods. It is available OTC at all drugstores. Free samples are available at www.prelief.com.

I don't have any first hand experience with this diet nor have I worked with patients who have needed it for IC, but there may be a connection that is helpful for you. Most of the dietary recommendations do not have a strong research base but have been developed by patterns of responses by people who suffer with interstitial cystitis. It is my understanding that in spite of general guidelines, patients have many individual responses to foods that may take considerable time and effort to uncover.

I saw a book on Amazon.com called A Taste of the Good Life: A Cookbook for an Interstitial Cystitis Diet by Authors: Beverley Laumann. Perhaps this will be of some assistance also.

I recommend starting a food diary listing all foods and beverages consumed (including ingredients) along with all your medications and dietary supplements. I also suggest that you make an appointment with the Registered Dietitian at your cancer treatment facility to help you determine

  • which/if any dietary manipulations will make a difference,
  • that your resulting diet is as balanced and nutritionally complete as possible
  • how best to work with your doctors,
  • and finally,to be a professional support throughout a very difficult part of your cancer journey.

Dr. Andrew Weil suggests trying marshmallow root tea and creative imagery, in addition to the dietary changes already mentioned.

One study reported that a dietary supplement called quercetin reduced many symptoms of interstitial cystitis. However, this study was not placebo-controlled, so it is very difficult to know if the supplement itself, hope, or spontaneous remission contributed to the improved symptoms in the 20 patients included in this study. The supplement tested is called Cysta-Q complex (equivalent to 500 mg of quercetin); amount tested was one capsule of Cysta-Q complex (equivalent to 500 mg of quercetin) twice a day for 4 weeks. None of the patients experienced any negative side effects, and all but one patient had at least some improvement in every outcome measure.

Some web sites that may have additional helpful information on interstitial cystitis include:

I send you my best wishes for health, healing, and hope!

faq posted 2/04, updated 5/05


These questions and answers are intended to be of a general informative nature. Please consult with the Registered Dietitian in your cancer center or your health care provider for nutritional advice that can be individualized to your specific medical condition.

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Nutritional Concerns during Cancer Treatment (related to side effects)

Nutritional Concerns during  Cancer Treatment Can you provide a list of all chemotherapy drugs called alkylating agents that may potentially have interactions with antioxidant supplements during chemotherapy? posted 10/02
Nutritional Concerns during  Cancer Treatment Dear Diana, I am undergoing treatments for cancer and am not eating well. What should I do? posted 7/01
Nutritional Concerns during Treatment Can I drink your soy shake recipes if my oncologist or dietitian has recommended that I follow a neutropenic diet due to my low white blood cell counts? posted 5/00, updated 7/01, updated 11/02, updated 8/03
Nutritional Concerns during Treatment Should I consume antioxidants during my cancer therapy? posted 12/01, updated 10/02
Nutritional Concerns during  Treatment Can herbs interact with any of the chemotherapy drugs? posted 4/01, updated 9/02
Nutritional Concerns during  Treatment Are there any diet changes to help relieve bloating during abdominal radiation? posted 4/03
Nutritional Concerns during  Treatment Do you have diet suggestions for someone who has diarrhea after
radiation therapy for rectal cancer?
posted 1/04, updated 4/04, 11/04, 1/05
Nutritional Concerns during  Treatment Is it safe to drink green tea if I have a port for administration of my chemotherapy? posted 1/04
Nutritional Concerns during  Treatment Can you tell me foods to eat to reduce the acid in my urine and pain in my bladder and ureters? posted 2/04, updated 5/05
Nutritional Concerns during  Treatment How can I eat a diet as healthy as you suggest if I need to be
hospitalized for more than a day or two?
posted 3/04
Nutritional Concerns during  Treatment My husband is having chemotherapy treatments and has lost his sense
of taste after one treatment. Are there any foods I can prepare that will give him some relief?
posted 9/04
Nutritional Concerns during  Treatment Is there a good web site describing the nutrition related side effects from chemo drugs? posted 10/04
Nutritional Concerns during  Treatment Should I stop drinking green tea during chemotherapy to avoid consuming too many antioxidants? posted 7/05
Nutritional Concerns during  Treatment How can I use the diet recommendations on your web site and in your book to both increase my intake of cancer fighting foods for optimizing my cancer recovery and lose weight at the same time? posted 3/06
Nutritional Concerns during  Treatment What tips do you have to stay on a healthy diet during the holiday season? posted 11/06


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