Nutrition for Mesothelioma Patients
It has been stated by the National Cancer Institute that at least 35 percent of all cancer cases are related to poor nutrition. And while mesothelioma is not a cancer that is related to poor nutrition, improving nutritional intake can help strengthen mesothelioma cancer patients’ bodies to fight the progressive disease.
Malignant mesothelioma is caused by exposure to asbestos, a naturally occurring mineral that was used extensively throughout the 20th century in a number of military and industrial applications. This type of cancer develops in the mesothelial cells that make up the lining of the lungs, heart and abdomen. Symptoms typically take anywhere from 20 to 50 years to become noticeable, so the cancer is often diagnosed in advanced stages when treatment options are limited.
If cancer develops in a healthy person (which can easily be the case with mesothelioma), continuing to eat a healthy diet is crucial to the healing process. Vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, lipids (fats) and proteins all play major roles in a healthy human body. Without the right balance of nutrients the body cannot effectively fight cancer. In addition, malnutrition causes the body to be susceptible to infection. Many cancer patients do not pass away from the cancer itself, but rather a medical condition stemming from the body’s weakened condition.
One of the most common side effects of cancer and cancer treatment is nausea. There are a number of dietary changes you can make to help this problem. Dry grain products like crackers and toast can help calm an upset stomach. Bland foods will also help with nausea, as well as acid reflux problems.
Another common characteristic found in cancer patients is low white blood cell count, which increases the chance of contracting an infection. To avoid this side effect, a number of changes can be made in the foods you ingest. It is most important to avoid bacteria, which is common in foods that are damaged or not prepared well. Avoid buffets when eating out, wash your hands before preparing meals, avoid raw meats and fish (like sushi), and throw away any foods that are bruised or damaged.
For many people, avoiding certain foods cannot decrease the chance of developing cancer. Cancer is a complex medical condition, with many factors playing various roles in development and treatment. However, most patients will undoubtedly benefit from a better diet in a number of ways. In addition to eating a balanced diet, use the following tips to help strengthen the body’s ability to function well and fight disease:
-Avoid alcohol in excess amounts.
-Monitor weight carefully, not only being sure to stay trim, but also being sure to avoid becoming too thin.
-Learn about safe food preparation techniques.
-Cut the "bad" fats from your diet, opting instead for "good" fats, such as olive oil.
-Choose fruits and vegetables daily (these food groups should represent the bulk of your diet, approximately 50 percent).
-Avoid processed foods, like prepackaged meals.
-Make healthy choices when eating out, opting for vegetable-based meals when possible.
-Monitor the types of fish you eat, choosing species low in mercury.
-Buy products that are organic or grown with minimum pesticides.
-Avoid eating fast foods.
-Cut tobacco products out of your life.
-Take a multi-vitamin every day.
-Include adequate amounts of fiber in your diet (see fiber post).
National Awareness Coordinator Mesothelioma Center