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Cancer Patients Need Extra Protein During Chemotherapy

December 1, 2010 Pat Killingsworth No Comments

Here is an interesting research article I found on Breast Cancer this morning about how important protein is for cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy:

Protein Requirement in Chemotherapy
November 30, 2010 – By Jim Duffy

Cancer is the unrestrained increase of cells because of DNA injury (mutations) and often, because of an inherited propensity to develop certain tumors. Chemotherapy is mostly a cancer treatment that uses medication to prevent the increase of cancer cells, either by killing the cells or by stopping the cells from separating. Because chemotherapy targets rapidly dividing cells, healthy cells that normally grow and divide rapidly might also be affected by the cancer treatments. These include cells within the mouth and digestive tract and scalp causing nausea and balding, which are usually temporary and reversible.

Cancer and cancer treatments might have negative affects on nutrition along with psychologically in depressive disorders or nervousness. Chemotherapy might also bring about side effects that interfere with eating and digestion. The subsequent unwanted side effects are common: poor appetite, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea or constipation, inflammation and sores within the mouth, changes in the way in which food tastes, and infections [Wojtaszek et al, 2002].

Whereas as normal, healthy adult could only require 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of actual body weight per day, patients udergoing chemotherapy require 1.5 grams of protein per kilogram of ideal body weight every day [Gelinas et al, 1990, Bell et al, 1996]. Because of this it is clear to see why nutrition is crucial for cancer patients going through chemotherapy. The goal for almost any cancer patient, before after as well as during treatment is always to attain an adequate amount of calories every day for weight maintenance and protein to optimize the immune system, strength, and tolerance to treatments. However, it is grueling for a number of patients to get the nutrients needed to develop healthy blood counts between chemotherapy treatments when dealing with the negative effects that come with the treatment. In cancer patients nutrition therapy is advantageous in treating uncomfortable side effects and providing the necessary nutrients to help tolerate and get through treatment, avert weightloss, and sustain general health. Nutrition therapy includes supplements high in calories and protein, and tube feedings.

In cancer patients going through chemotherapy it is critical that diet and nutrition be centered on what can be tolerated in managing the various symptoms. It’s vital to manage these symptoms while maintaining the aims for sufficient calories and protein.

The most common secondary diagnosis in people diagnosed with cancer is protein-calorie malnutrition (PCM) which stems from insufficient intake of carbohydrate, protein, and fat to satisfy metabolic requirements and/or the reduced absorption of macronutrients. [McMahon et al, 1998, Colasanto et al 2005]. Anorexia is an nearly universal side effect in people with advanced cancer because the loss of appetite or need to eat is usually gift in fifteen to twenty five percent of all cancer patients at diagnosis and may also occur as a side effect of treatments.

Good nutrition practices can help cancer patients maintain weight and also the body’s nutrition stores, offering relief from nutrition impact symptoms and improving quality of life [American Cancer Society, 2002]. Over and over again patients with inadequate nutrition practices wind up malnurished, with worse treatment uncomfortable side effects, and increased risk of infection which reduces their probabilities of survival [Vigano et al, 1994].

In an endeavor to avert losing weight cancer patients normally require a high calorie diet. They’ll additionally require a diet that’s high in protein content to forestall muscle wasting Foods which are rich in protein provide the body with amino acids, that help to assemble, fix, and sustain cells and muscle tissue, to repair wounds, also to maintain the immune system.

Your body utilizes proteins for tissue growth and repair. Cancer patients going through chemotherapy commonly go through an increase protein loss. If untreated this will cause malnutrition. Protein supplements like casein and whey help our bodies in supplying the increased demand for proteins. Unfortunately digesting abilities might be impacted by the side effects of chemotherapy. For that reason little recurrent meals of easy to digest foods need to be given every day is what is recommended. Casein meets this criterion. Casein’s capability to form a clot in the stomach that releases amino acids into the blood stream at a decelerated rate and its simple digestibility allow it to be perfect in this application. This facilitates with our body’s need for an increased supply of amino acids essential for energy and protein synthesis. Chemotherapy treatments decrease one’s immunity levels. In an effort to boost immunity one might take whey protein. In a normal person, GSH is present in the body, which prevents the formation of cancerous cells. The precursor of GSH is the amino acid cysteine which can be available in whey proteins. The concentration of important amino acids is higher in whey protein than it is in all of the vegetable proteins. It is suggested that casein and whey proteins are used to support chemotherapy nutrition since the amino acids within whey are efficiently absorbed and utilized by the body.

American Cancer Society.: Nutrition for the Person with Cancer: A Guide for Patients and Families. Atlanta, Ga: American Cancer Society, Inc., 2000.

Bell SJ, Forse, RA. Positive Nutrition for HIV Infection and AIDS. ChroniMed: Minneapolis, 1996

Colasanto JM, Prasad P, Nash MA, Decker RH, Wilson LD.: Nutritional support of patients undergoing radiation therapy for head and neck cancer. Oncology (Huntingt). Mar;19(3):371-9, 2005

Counous, G: Whey protein concentrates (WPC) and glutathione modulation in cancer treatment. Anticancer Research, 20: 4785-4792, 2000.

Gelinas MD, Bell SJ, Akerman P, Blackburn GL. A practical guide to managing nutrition in cancer patients. In: Bloch AS (ed.). Nutritional Management of the Cancer Patient. Philadelphia: WB Saunders, 138-158, 1990.

Langstein HN, Norton JA: Mechanisms of cancer cachexia. Hematol Oncol Clin North Am 5 (1): 103-23, 1991.

McMahon K, Decker G, Ottery FD: Integrating proactive nutritional assessment in clinical practices to prevent complications and cost. Semin Oncol 25 (2 Suppl 6): 20-7, 1998.

Tisdale MJ: Cancer cachexia. Anticancer Drugs 4 (2): 115-25, 1993.

Vigano A, Watanabe S, Bruera E: Anorexia and cachexia in advanced cancer patients. Cancer Surv 21: 99-115, 1994.

Walzem RL, Dillard CJ, German JB: Whey components: millennia of evolution create functionalities for mammalian nutrition: what we know and what we may be overlooking. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr, 42:353-375, 2002

Wojtaszek CA, Kochis LM, Cunningham RS: Nutrition impact symptoms in the oncology patient. Oncology Issues 17 (2): 15-7, 2002.

Good to know.  We would like to suggest eating lots of raw, mixed nuts.  You can buy them at Target or Whole Foods.  Surprisingly tasty, even without salt. 

Feel good and keep smiling!  Pat & Pattie

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