It is imperative for those battling or undergoing treatment for cancers like mesothelioma to maintain a healthy lifestyle, and proper nutrition is a large aspect of that lifestyle. Mesothelioma symptoms along with the stress the body endures during a cancer treatment regimen can severely affect the nutritional demands of a patient- something they need to be cognizant of as they prepare to battle their disease. For this reason, it is often helpful to consult with a nutritional specialist after receiving recommendations from a cancer treatment specialist or personal physician.
Common nutritional issues encountered by mesothelioma cancer patients include anorexia and cachexia-both of which can lead to malnutrition. Nearly all patients will experience mild anorexia at some point following a mesothelioma diagnosis. Cachexia is a different degenerative wasting disorder that can cause weakness, loss of weight, and muscle depletion. Cachexia is more common in patients of gastrointestinal, pancreatic, or thoracic cancers, including patients battling malignant mesothelioma.
Good nutrition can assist patients in obtaining the nutrients they need to maintain their body weight and boost their strength. Protein and calories are important for healing, fighting infection, and boosting energy levels. Mesothelioma treatment is generally more effective in a well nourished and healthier patient. Healthier patients are often more capable of handling higher doses of chemotherapy and mesothelioma radiation therapy, enhancing the efficacy of the overall treatment regimen. Being well nourished has been linked to a generally more positive mesothelioma prognosis and better quality of life for some patients.
Benefits of Vegan and Vegetarian Diets
No longer considered a fad diet or weight loss motivated regimen, many people in the United States and around the world, including many in clinical cancer communities, are now adhering to more strict nutritional programs through vegetarian or vegan diets. These diets are rich in the vitamins and minerals, including calcium, iron, and vitamin B, that many cancer patients would normally incorporate into their nutritional regimen. As such, these nutritional regimens may be beneficial for those diagnosed with mesothelioma.
In general, adhering to a diet rich in vitamins, lean protein, and fiber allows for patients to feel better and stronger. These diets are popular among those receiving traditional cancer treatments like chemotherapy or radiation, which can induce side effects of nausea and fatigue. These diets provide help in maintaining a generally healthy lifestyle during treatment and provide energy to patients who need to be in strong physical health to overcome the symptoms of the cancer and its treatments.
Vegetarian and vegan diets are also popular among those affected by cancer in preventative sense. Studies indicate that those who adhere to a vegetarian or vegan diet are not only less likely to develop certain types of cancer, but also more likely to live longer after a diagnosis of cancer and fight off recurrence of the disease.
National Cancer Institute - Overview of Nutrition in Cancer Care
Paglia, Donna. Vegetarian Diets During Cancer Treatment. Vegetarian Journal. 1996. Vol. 15 (4)