Glutamine powder

Katrina Claghorn, MS, RD
Last Modified: July 21, 2002

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Question

Dear OncoLink "Ask The Experts,"
Do you have any information pro and/or con for Glutamine powder as a supplement for a rectal cancer patient during treatment?  

Answer

Katrina Claghorn, MS, RD, Registered Dietitian at the Abramson Cancer Center of the University of Pennsylvania, responds:

Glutamine is an amino acid. Generally the body produces and maintains adequate levels of glutamine, however when the body is under stress deficiencies can occur. Glutamine is the preferred fuel of the fast growing cells of the gastrointestinal tract and is essential in maintaining the integrity of the mucosal lining.

Although many studies have been done on the use of glutamine in cancer treatments, results while generally showing benefit, are inconclusive. When used in conjunction with chemotherapy and radiation therapy, glutamine has been found to reduce some side effects of the treatments such as mouth sores, diarrhea and peripheral neuropathy. There are no known drug or nutrient interaction associated with glutamine. However, anybody who restricts his or her protein intake for medical reasons should avoid glutamine. A dose of 30 grams a day of glutamine taken in three 10 grams doses has been shown to have the most benefit.



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