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Diet for Mesothelioma Patients

A proper diet and healthy nutrition is essential for anyone, but this is especially true for asbestos-cancer patients. It has been shown that these patients can benefit from proper diet and nutrition because it gives the body essential building blocks.

The right kinds of foods and having appropriate nutrition can help patients stay stronger during stressful and sometimes painful treatments. Even during palliative care and complementary and alterative medicine (CAM) treatments, proper diet and nutrition is essential.

The Difference Between Diet and Nutrition?

Even though these words are sometimes used interchangeably, they do not mean the same thing:

  • Nutrition - The process in which people use food for growth and development. Nutrition is acquired from different food components. Proper nutrition comes from a proper diet.
  • Diet - The total amount of food consumed by a single person, including the quality of the food variety. There are a number of factors that effect diet including socioeconomic status and religion.

Will Treatments Impact a Patient's Nutrition?

The conventional mesothelioma treatments -- chemotherapy, radiation and surgery - are all known to effect nutrition and diet. In some cases, such as radiation, the patient’s ability to taste is altered. In other cases, such as chemotherapy, the patient may not be able to stop vomiting. There are several side effects from mesothelioma treatments that make it difficult to have proper nutrition and a consistent diet:

  • Pain and Anxiety
  • Diarrhea and Constipation
  • Nausea and Vomiting
  • Dry Mouth

Asbestos-cancer treatments can also cause extreme malnutrition in some patients, leaving them weak and tired. There are two main types of malnutrition that are common to all kinds of cancer patients, including asbestos-cancer patients:

  • Anorexia - When patients lose the desire to eat as a result of treatment, they sometimes develop anorexia. This can be treated with medications that increase appetite.
  • Cachexia - Commonly called wasting syndrome, this disorder produces a loss of body weight and muscle mass. This is usually found in late-stage patients. While cachexia can be treated with medications, up to 40 percent of cancer patients die as a result of cachexia.

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Essential Nutrients for Mesothelioma Patients

For any patient, it is vital to maintain a proper diet and healthy nutrition before, during and after treatment. The key to proper nutrition is providing the missing nutrients in a diet, maintaining nutrition and preventing nutritional problems. When advanced-care patients have problems getting proper nutrition on their own, there are several ways medical science can help:

  • Appetite-enhancing drugs - There are many medications specifically aimed at helping increase the appetite.
  • Feeding tube - This is also known as tube feeding or enteral nutrition. For this, a tube is entered through the nose into the stomach or small intestines. Liquid nutrition is then placed directly into the body.
  • Parenteral nutrition - For this, a catheter is inserted in either the upper chest or arm and used to provide nutrients into the bloodstream.

What is the Budwig Diet?

One of the most talked-about diet regimes was created in 1951 by biochemist Johanna Budwig. She suggests that a diet rich in cottage cheese ad flaxseed oil, plus other dietary restrictions, can cure cancer.

It is important for all cancer patients, including those with asbestos-related cancers, to remember that there is no evidence to support Budwig’s claims. However, there have been some reports of mesothelioma patients recovering from disease symptoms while utilizing the Budwig protocol.

No matter which method is used to provide a proper diet and nutrition, it is vital that all asbestos-cancer patients consult with their mesothelioma specialist before any problems begin. Most mesothelioma specialists know skilled diet and nutrition experts who can help.


National Cancer Institute. Overview of Nutrition in Cancer Care. Retrieved from http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/pdq/supportivecare/nutrition/Patient/page1

WebMD. “Nutrition To Help You Fight Cancer.” Retrieved from http://www.webmd.com/cancer/nutrition-cancer-12/default.htm