Can people with cancer fast? Tips from the Israel Cancer Association

“Every cancer patient, even if he or she is used to fasting on Yom Kippur, is advised to consult with his or her physician ahead of the fast."

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October 6, 2019 21:05
1 minute read.
Professor Abraham Kooten, chair of the Israel Cancer Association

Professor Abraham Kooten, chair of the Israel Cancer Association. (photo credit: ILAN SHAPIRA)

The Israel Cancer Association has released a set of guidelines for patients with cancer ahead of the fast day of Yom Kippur.

“Every cancer patient, even if he or she is used to fasting on Yom Kippur, is advised to consult with his or her physician ahead of the fast and should refrain from fasting without receiving medical advice,” the association said in a press release. “This recommendation is particularly important for those undergoing radiation or chemotherapy treatments.”

Prof. Abraham Kooten, an oncologist and chair of the cancer association, said that fasting can not only harm patients, but can also cause “unpleasant symptoms and sensations.”



“Patients who take medication regularly should continue to take them, even on Yom Kippur and even if they are fasting,” Kooten explained.



Cancer is the number one killer in Israel, according to a December report by Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics. The rate of cancer deaths in Israel is 177.1 deaths for every 100,000 people.



At one point, there was an assumption that Jews of Eastern European descent were more genetically prone to cancer than other groups. However, a 2001 study by a researcher for the American Cancer Society found that Ashkenazi Jews do not appear to have a higher total cancer burden compared to other North Americans.


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