Nutrition and Cancer Treatment
The treatment of cancer with nutrition is known as holistic oncology. It involves changes in diet and nutrition that are meant to promote a cure from the disease rather than just suppressing the symptoms. Nutrition oncologists work with patients who have cancer, particularly gastrointestinal cancers, colorectal cancers, pancreatic cancers, and other cancers of the upper body and abdomen. Cancer of the bones, lungs, liver, pancreas, and other organs are treated by specialists called oncologists. Holistic oncology can be used to treat all types of cancer and to prevent cancer itself.
One question that often arises is why would eating simple carbohydrates have anything to do with a cure for cancer? The simple carbohydrates may have a high glycemic index, which means that they raise the blood sugar levels too quickly. When the blood sugar rises, the tumor cell will also rise. The cells divide too quickly and the result can be cancer. Simple carbohydrates may cause a spike in blood sugar when they are eaten rapidly.
There is some evidence that chemotherapy is good for cancer and that it provides patients with energy needs. However, chemotherapy can cause many side effects, such as fatigue, vomiting, nausea, and hair loss. A better alternative for the chemotherapy patient would be to eat a healthy diet and include multivitamins and supplements to ensure adequate nutrition.
Cancer cachexia is a condition where the cancer cachexia is not related to an increase in size or ability to absorb nutrients. This happens when there is a problem with the regulation of the metabolism, but the condition is not life-threatening. There is no way to diagnose metabolic disorders in the absence of laboratory tests that can measure protein, fat, and carbohydrate levels. Therefore, nutritionists have developed methods of evaluating nutrition problems in the context of cachexia, using standard clinical measurements.
When there is an insulin imbalance, the gastrointestinal tract cells are sensitive to insulin. Cancer cachexia is the result of excessive insulin secretion from the pancreas. Therefore, nutritionists believe that improving the insulin regulation could improve the effects of chemotherapy in patients with this condition. Research is currently under way to test whether arginine, a type of amino acid, has an effect on insulin secretion and on the glucose disposal in the gastrointestinal tract after administration of an intravenous insulin flush.
Nutritional supports are particularly important for cancer patients who are at high risk of vitamin deficiency. Research has shown that nutritional support can reduce the negative consequences of chemotherapy in patients with cancer who receive daily supplementation. Research also indicates that regular supplementation is associated with a decreased risk of mortality and other outcomes that are linked to poor nutrition, including increased risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, and chronic inflammation. Furthermore, research indicates that nutritional support can improve the quality of life of cancer patients undergoing cancer treatment who do not receive daily nutritional support.
Nutritional therapy for cancer cachexia has been shown to improve the quality of life for individuals with this condition. In addition to reducing the negative consequences of chemotherapy, patients can also improve their quality of life by improving their health through improved nutrition and increased exercise. As previously mentioned, research is currently underway to test the effects of supplemental glutamine on survival time following lung cancer cachexia. Glutamine increases the synthesis of glycogen, the glucose of choice for the brain and liver. Although this nutrient has not been shown to have a significant effect on survival time, it has been shown to improve the functioning of the liver and increase the production of energy in cancer cachexia.
Cancer cachexia is also linked to poor metabolic processes. Cancer cachexia causes a dramatic decline in tumor necrosis factor (TNF), a chemical messenger of the immune system. TNF plays an integral role in many normal and ongoing metabolic processes, and the diminished production of TNF may contribute to the progression of cancer. The effects of nutritional support in combating the effects of chemotherapy and other toxic agents is currently not known. However, patients receiving such support have exhibited greater improvement in metabolism and insulin sensitivity, which could contribute to their ability to tolerate chemotherapy and other toxic agents.