What is cachexia?
Cachexia is characterised by loss of appetite, unintentional weight loss and progressive muscle wasting. Specifically, it’s defined as an involuntary loss of 5% (or more) of body mass in twelve months or less.
Cachexia is a common complication of cancer. It is present in 50 – 85% of people with advanced cancer (most frequently with lung cancer, pancreatic cancer, colorectal and stomach cancer).
While it is also seen with other diseases such as AIDS/HIV, heart failure, kidney failure, etc, today we’ll focus specifically on cancer cachexia.
Symptoms and Signs of Cachexia
Among the common symptoms of cachexia are:
- substantial loss of body mass
- shortness of breath
- strong fatigue
- significant loss of appetite
- muscle wasting
What are the causes of cancer cachexia?
2 mechanisms are at work here, namely reduced food intake and metabolic changes due to cancer.
Reduced food intake
This could be due to many factors including loss of appetite, difficulty swallowing, nausea, depression, etc. Some might even experience changes in taste and aversion to food.
Also, depending on the type of cancer, some could cause discomforts like abdominal fullness, constipation which could further affect appetite.
While surgery and other types of cancer therapies can cause weight and muscle loss, cancer itself also causes many profound metabolic changes. Cancer causes secretion of inflammatory cytokines, changes your body’s synthesis and breakdown of amino acids and fats, alters your response to insulin, changes your glucose levels, etc. All these processes causes a reduction in muscle, body weight, and overall deterioration of general health and strength.
What to do? – Dietary & Lifestyle considerations
You might think it best to conserve energy and calories, however exercise is important to help the muscle mass for those with cachexia especially combined with proper nutrition. At the same time, it’s important to balance exercise so as not to overexert.
Of course, regular exercise may be impossible if you’re very ill. However, they should be encouraged to move (if possible). Even if it’s only sitting up or walking a short distance to the bathroom.
Avoid smoking / smoke
Smoking and secondhand smoke were never good for health to begin with. And to prevent further catabolic wasting, it’s critical to avoiding smoking and secondhand smoke. Smoking and exposure to toxins associated with smoking increase the risk for muscle wasting in at least 4 ways:
- reducing appetite
- inhibiting protein synthesis
- increasing protein breakdown
- increasing your body’s levels of myostatin (i.e. a natural protein that inhibits muscle growth)
Supplements to consider
- Fish Oil (Omega 3 Fatty Acids)
Numerous studies have shown the positive effects of Omega 3s on cachexia. Taking fish oil capsules resulted in less muscle wasting, and many actually gained lean body mass.
- Vitamin DIt is a critical nutrient for maintaining your immunity as well as for the growth and maintenance of your muscle and bone.
- ProbioticsPeople undergoing radiation or chemotherapy often experience chronic diarrhea. This can significantly reduce absorption of many nutrients. Several studies have reported that use of probiotic bacteria such as Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium longum can significantly reduce incidence of HIV/AIDS or cancer radiation-related diarrhea
- Digestive EnzymesPeople with cachexia might benefit from taking digestive enzyme supplements. This would help with digestion and absorption of nutrients.
And last but not least, consider taking Immunocal
Immunocal has been shown to reverse weight loss in lung cancer patients receiving chemotherapy or radiotherapy. Besides providing your cells with precursor to make glutathione, it is also a rich source of many amino acids vital for muscle building.
Why do you need glutathione?
Your health relies heavily on the availability of Glutathione (GSH). It exists in every cell of your body and is essential for your life. This molecule is constantly being used up in dozens of your body’s functions and is difficult to replace.
Glutathione is your body’s master antioxidant, its chief detoxification enzyme (for many carcinogens and heavy metals) and is literally food for your immune system.
Immunocal is a patented, unique and specially formulated natural protein that has been clinically demonstrated to raise your cellular glutathione.
Many natural products claim to help your immune system, but very few have undergone the rigorous testing and published human trials that Immunocal has over the years. Over forty published scientific and medical articles attest to its remarkable credibility!
“There are many myths and mysteries about raising glutathione…
Let me be clear – Immunocal is the only natural patented protein proven to raise and sustain glutathione levels and help the immune system.”
Dr Jimmy Gutman
World’s best selling author on Glutathione