Rethinking Nutritional Support for Persons with Cancer Cachexia
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Biological Research for Nursing
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Cancer cachexia is a poorly understood syndrome of anorexia, weight loss, and muscle wasting that negatively impacts quality of life and survival in cancer patients. Research has clearly implicated proinflammatory cytokines in the biology of cancer cachexia. More recent research implicates products of arachidonic acid and suggests that cachexia may be a chronic inflammatory condition rather than a nutritional aberration. To date, nutritional support to slow weight loss has focused primarily on increasing calorie intake. Alternatively, many foods contain factors that can modulate the synthesis or activity of proinflammatory mediators, especially the synthesis of prostaglandin E2 from arachidonic acid. These factors and foods are sometimes called nutraceuticals, and research is needed to evaluate their efficacy in combating cancer cachexia.