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Malnutrition in Cancer Patients

Cancer is a deadly disease that ravages the body in many different ways. Not only do tumors interfere with the proper functioning of your organs, but the treatment regimen for cancer can weaken you and cause you to suffer from malnutrition. Sadly, this can further decrease your body’s ability to fight the harmful cancer cells.

Causes of Malnutrition

Malnutrition occurs when you do not receive the vitamins and minerals that your cells require to function. This may happen if you do not eat enough, but it can also occur if you do not eat a balanced diet that carries the nutrients you need. For many cancer patients, side effects of the cancer or cancer treatment can lead to vomiting, diarrhea, oral sores, difficulty swallowing, and other problems that make food unappetizing. However, failing to eat can make you weaker.

Many cancer patients develop anorexia or cachexia. Anorexia is a loss of appetite that makes a person lose his or her desire to eat. Cachexia, on the other hand, is a wasting syndrome that occurs when the body fails to slow down metabolism despite the disease. It leads to a loss of body fat, muscle, and overall mass.

The Dangers of Malnutrition

Your body requires protein and other calories to create energy to ward off infections and to recover. However, anorexia and cachexia can lead to malnutrition. Sadly, malnutrition is an added danger to cancer, and it can cause health problems such as:

  • Kidney failure
  • Heart attack
  • Inability to withstand cancer treatment
  • Susceptibility to infections

Although it may be difficult for you to eat, it is important to talk to your doctor about maintaining your nutritional intake so that you can fight your cancer.

For More Information

Malnutrition such as cachexia is especially prevalent in tumors of the lungs and gastrointestinal tract, both of which can occur as a result of asbestos exposure. If you believe that you have been exposed to asbestos, you should talk to your doctor immediately about your cancer risk. For more information regarding asbestos and asbestos-related cancer, please fill out the contact form located at the top of the page immediately.

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