Dietary Recommendations for Mesothelioma

OncoLink Team
The Abramson Cancer Center of the University of Pennsylvania
Last Modified: May 7, 2013


Are there any dietary recommendations or sources that you can recommend?


Keith Cengel, MD, Radiation Oncologist at Penn Medicine, responds:

There are no specific dietary recommendations at this time, although keeping in positive nitrogen balance (i.e. keeping enough calories so that the patient either gains or maintains weight) is critically important. There are many rumors surrounding acid or sugar, based on the fact that tumors are generally acidic and use more sugar than normal tissues. However, this is not new information and was in fact noted by Otto Warburg in the 1920's. Unfortunately, acid or sugar restriction based therapies have been tried with little success over the 90 years since, and they may even cause harm to patients if they result in patients losing weight.

A standard multivitamin is very reasonable, and a healthy and balanced diet is important. One very interesting new approach is that whole ground flax seed in the diet appears to have multiple potential benefits in both normal tissue protection and helping standard therapies work better, and we are currently testing this in clinical trials.

Learn more about diet during cancer treatment on OncoLink.


Christina Bach, MSW, LCSW, OSW-C, Oncology Social Worker at Penn Medicine, adds:

Nutrition care during cancer treatment is very important. Ask your physician if a referral to a nutritionist is available at your treatment site.

There are also great online resources available from the American Cancer Society, as well as Oncolink and LIVESTRONG. Remember that certain other medical conditions, like diabetes, also impact nutrition counseling during cancer treatment, as well as supplements can be used.

This question and answer was part of the OncoLink Brown Bag Chat Series. View the entire Focus on Mesothelioma transcript.


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