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Cancer and Nutrition
What Every Caregiver Should Know

by Hillary Wright, Staff Writer

(Page 2 of 7)

Weight loss when living with cancer is different than weight loss from dieting. Many people go through life trying to lose weight and stay fit, but with cancer, weight loss isnít desirable. People with cancer need to maintain weight and muscle to prevent complications that can impact the effectiveness of therapy and ultimately survival. In fact, losing as little as five percent of body weight can adversely affect a personís response to cancer therapy. Slowing or stopping weight loss and rebuilding muscle allows for more energy, strength and independence to perform everyday functions and favorite activities.

Simply eating more food or using conventional nutritional beverages may not be enough to prevent or reverse the weight and muscle loss, but there are nutritional options available. In fact, certain fatty acids have been found to play a role in cancer-related weight loss. One such fatty acid is EPA (or eicosapentaenoic acid), an omega-3 fatty acid that has been effective in stabilizing weight loss in people with cancer. A therapeutic nutritional beverage with 2 grams of EPA has been shown to help restore normal metabolism and build muscle so that people with cancer have increased strength to respond to cancer therapies.

It is important to address the metabolic problems associated with cancer-related weight loss early on, because excessive weight and muscle loss can adversely affect a personís response to cancer therapy. The earlier a person with cancer begins taking a therapeutic nutritional beverage specifically designed to help normalize metabolism and promote weight gain, the easier it may be to manage or even hold off cancer-related weight loss.

As with any illness or injury, a person produces and releases different substances into the bloodstream that promote healing. This type of reaction from the immune system tends to speed-up the regular metabolic rate, causing more calories than usual to be burned. Once well, a personís metabolism then returns to normal, but during the time it ran at a higher rate, some inches and pounds most likely were shed.

When a person with cancer fights a tumor, however, this response can continue indefinitely. The tumor produces substances that alter the metabolism of macronutrients ó protein, carbohydrates and fat ó and causes the body to burn calories faster than they ordinarily can be replaced. The result is catabolism, the breakdown of muscle and other tissue.


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