Keeping Nausea at Bay

Edward Rosario preps fruit for a smoothie fortified with protein powder which he can tolerate to combat nausea.

Nausea is a common side effect of cancer – especially for people going through chemotherapy. When non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma patient Edward Rosario came to the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center, his nausea was overwhelming.

Although it can be difficult to find relief, there are several ways to combat an unsettled stomach. Rosario’s relief came when the Cancer Center’s Symptom Management and Supportive Care Clinic prescribed him medicine to help treat the symptom.

Emily Mackler, Pharm.D., a pharmacist in the clinic, says there are different medications to treat nausea. A queasy stomach may be caused by neurotransmitters within the brain, and medications can be prescribed to target these. Other medications target receptors lining the gastrointestinal tract that can contribute to nausea. In some cases, more than one medication may be used to provide the best control. “We also look at the medicines a person is already taking to see if those are contributing to the nausea,” Mackler says. “If so, we’ll look at modifying the patient’s medical regimen by changing how they take their medicine or perhaps by switching to a different drug so they can feel some relief.”

Medicine is one way to combat nausea, but staying away from certain foods and rethinking portion size and meal timing can also make a difference in relieving nausea or keeping it under control. Continue reading

Read the latest issue of Thrive

The latest issue of Thrive, the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center’s patient publication, is now available online.

Check out our cover story about options available to women who would like to start a family after cancer treatment has impaired their fertility. The issue also features stories about helping children cope with their parents’ cancer diagnoses and 10 ways to make better decisions about cancer care. Our dietitians weigh in on popular supplements, and our art therapist discusses the benefits of spending time on creative projects.

Visit Thrive online at Take time to browse our archive, too.

A helping hand: Taking control of eating with tube-feeding

By Nancy Burke, R.D., Joan Daniels, R.D., and Danielle Karsies, R.D., M.S.
University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center Dietitians

Illustration shows placement of feeding tubesThink of any celebration, and the first thing that probably comes to mind is food. The aroma, taste and texture of food give us pleasure and satisfaction — but cancer and its treatment can temporarily interfere with our ability to enjoy it.

Some people with cancer may experience loss of appetite or taste. Others may not be able to eat because of a blockage or pain when swallowing. No one wants to give up eating, but when it becomes more of a hindrance or a burden, a feeding tube may offer relief. In fact, we’ve found that many people who opt for tube-feeding say that they wished they had done so sooner, as they feel better overall, more energetic and less burdened by not having to force themselves to eat.

Read the rest of this story in the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center’s patient publication, Thrive.

Organic curiosity: Is it worth the extra cost to buy organic?

A cancer diagnosis often makes people re-evaluate their eating habits, inspiring many to incorporate more organically grown foods in their diets. Some people buy organic because of concerns about the environment, pesticides or animal welfare. Others perceive organic foods to be more nutritious. But considering the higher cost, is there any evidence that organically grown food offers more health benefits than conventionally grown food?

The University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center’s dietitians tackle this question in their latest nutrition column for our patient publication, Thrive. In addition to weighing the pros and cons of eating organic food, the dietitians offer lists of foods that typically contain the high and low levels of pesticides when conventionally grown, so that you can spend your money more wisely.
Visit Thrive to read the full story.

Pharmacist’s Corner: Get answers about vitamin D

Vitamin D is the media darling of the supplement world: Studies have linked it to lowering the risk of diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer. But is it hype? Or should you be paying more attention to your vitamin D intake?

For most people, the recommended daily allowance for vitamin D is 15 mcg or 600 IU per day, according to pharmacist Emily Mackler and registered dietitian Danielle Karsies, both of the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center’s Symptom Management & Supportive Care Program. The best way to get it is to eat foods rich in vitamin D, such as fatty fish, egg yolks or milk fortified with the vitamin.

To learn more about the potential of vitamin D and whether you should be taking a supplement, view the video above. Or, get more information about living with cancer at

Most wanted supplements

Marketing claims for nutritional supplements can be lofty — and misleading. What’s lurking inside those bottles — cancer killers? Or con artists?

University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center dietitians Nancy Burke, R.D., Joan Daniels, R.D., and Daniel Karsies, R.D., M.S., say the best bet for cancer prevention is a healthy diet. Nevertheless, we know many of our patients have questions about supplements. Get the lowdown on 10 commonly linked to cancer prevention.