Amino Acids and Protein Nutrition for Cancer Cachexia

Cancer cachexia is also called paraneoplastic syndrome since this condition is somehow a reaction as to how the body reacts with cancer.

Cancer Cachexia

Amino acids plays a role in the protein nutrition of patients with cancer Cachexia since amino acids contribute to the production of muscle mass to combat the amount of muscles wasted in cancer patients.

Cancer cachexia also known as Cancer anorexia cachexia is a wasting syndrome wherein patients would experience progressive loss of tissue and depletion in nutrient intake. Experts were able to associate the term anorexia with this type of cancer since this condition is characterized by weight loss which cannot be supported by normal nutritional support.

Being associated with weight loss and muscle wasting, cancer cachexia brings a poor quality of life. Since cachexia is a bit hard to diagnose to a patient since most cancer is accompanied by weight loss, several tests are needed to be conducted to confirm the condition of cachexia. For this kind of cancer, a patient needs to undergo body mass index calculation, blood tests, and lean muscle mass calculation.

Furthermore, experts also claim that cancer cachexia is also called paraneoplastic syndrome since this condition somehow is a reaction as to how the body reacts with cancer.

Symptoms of Cancer Cachexia

According to research, even before weight loss, cancer cachexia could have been present in the body already. Apart from the unusual or sudden weight loss, a patient may also detect or experience symptoms which include the following:

1. Unintentional weight loss

Weight loss associated with cancer cachexia usually happens without even having the intention of losing weight. Even though one is experiencing small amounts of weight loss, it could still be alarming.

2. Loss of appetite

Another symptom of cancer cachexia is loss of appetite. But take note, this is not the usual “loss of appetite” since with cachexia, one would experience loss of desire to eat.

3. Muscle wasting

Together with fat loss, muscle wasting has been a hallmark of cancer cachexia.

4. Low quality of life

Muscle wasting could give one a poor quality of life since such condition could take someone’s ability to walk and engage on other activities.

Treatments for Cancer Cachexia

Medical experts claim that even with adequate calorie intake, it still cannot help reverse the process of cachexia. However, a combination of treatments are to be followed.


Be it any kind of cancer of health condition, a person needs to have a healthy diet. For patients with cachexia, a careful diet planning is advisable since pushing too much calories on the patient may lead to another condition which is the overfeeding syndrome.


Including this as a treatment for cachexia patients may seem counterintuitive. However, light exercise may also help since exercises may also help increase in appetite.


There are also several medications that could be advised on the patients to help suppress symptoms of cancer cachexia.

Nutritional supplements

Nutrients derived from organic foods are really ideal most especially for ill patients. However, that may not always be the case. Most especially for cachexia patients, they will be needing additional sources of nutrients to help them combat the condition.

Since cancer cachexia is marketed to be a condition wherein muscle wasting is what’s making the patients suffer, experts were able to make use of the benefits of amino acids and proper protein nutrition as a way of treating these cancer patients.

Amino acids and Protein Nutrition for Cancer Cachexia

Amino Acids take part in the physiological process of the body in serving as the building blocks of protein. Having said that, they also contribute to the production of muscle mass.

Even up to date, research and medical practices are still ongoing in order for experts to fully confirm and understand the evaluation of human amino acid metabolism and its contribution to the treatment of patients with cancer cachexia. During the research, medical experts were able to detect that there are possible techniques of nitrogen balance and 3-methylhistidine excretion which is said to provide overall nitrogen metabolism which also helps in the production or release of skeletal muscle myofibrillar protein breakdown.

Since there is a possible overfeeding syndrome, measurements in the amino acids are to be taken extra care of. Researchers were also able to identify the benefits and the significant advances of stable and unstable amino acid isotopes.

The use of amino acids, regional amino acid balance, and 3-methylhistidine have been present in giving the researchers clearer answers as to how amino acids were a great contribution in keeping the nutritional balance of a cancer cachexia patient.

Aside from using amino acids, experts also took chance on specific pharmacologic and anabolic agents such as growth hormone, hydrazine sulfate, insulin, and beta-2 agonists in trying to reverse the nutritional support of these cancer patients. However, they were able to find out that certain amino acids such as arginine, glutamine, and branched-chain amino acids or BCAAs are more effective in providing nutritional support to the patients.

Even though they claim that these significant advances and benefits given by amino acids are still promising and should be further studied, the positive effects and improvements were still noticeable. This is why the protein catabolic mechanisms of cancer cachexia and its effects in effectively protein calorie malnutrition in line with cancer cachexia must further be understood and studied.

The Conclusion

Cancer cachexia is associated with protein malnutrition and amino acid kinetics disturbances. Having said, apart from the other medical treatments that experts could offer to patients, amino acid supplementation or a high protein intake for patients are also advisable. This is because the said supplementation could contribute a lot to the production of muscle mass and at the same time, improve muscle protein synthesis to help combat the a major problem of cancer cachexia – protein calorie malnutrition and muscle wasting.

Cancer Cachexia

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