Cancer and Nutrition

Cancers are complex in type, pathophysiology, and treatments. Mutations, tumor origination, patient specificity, new or unsuccessful therapies dictate a fluctuating landscape. Although research allows some success in quality of life and increased survival for some, much is yet to be learned, especially with respect to cancer nutrition.

Studies show that cancer cells thrive in high glucose, high amino acid environments, they break down protein faster than protein can be made available, and interestingly, once a dog has cancer, cancer metabolism remains (Leite, Watters, Weiss, & Intini, 2021). We theorize that cancer stem cells exist that have plasticity to adapt to nutritional environments for survival, and that nutritional availability can determine the aggressiveness or metastatic potential for cancer cells, and that the type of cancer may dictate beneficial dietary modifications (Leite, Watters, Weiss, & Intini, 2021).

Further research into tumor metabolism, followed by clinical trials to verify the safety and efficacy of results such as the effects of caloric restriction, sporadic starvation that maintains mineral and vitamin levels and ketogenic diets (high fat, moderate protein, low carbohydrates) on different cancer types.

Current knowledge that environment, diet and lifestyle may have epigenetic effects on cancer development has evolved into a guided by research, can’t hurt to try approach, to try to alter tumor microenvironments or metabolism. Since we know that cancer cells thrive in glucose rich environments, reducing simple carbohydrates to a small amount in your canine cancer patient’s diet may slow tumor aggressiveness, while adding fish oil supplements (omega3 fatty acids) to decrease high lactic acid accumulation, maintaining a moderate amount or protein and fat in the Canine Cancer patient’s diet may reduce or eliminate cancer metabolic aberrations (Ogilvie, 2006).

Reducing the amount of carbohydrates in the diet is important, so that means paying special attention on which carbohydrates we do decide to add to the diet. As all foods are much more than the 150 compounds commonly tracked by the USDA. In that regard we want to concentrate on the other compounds (such as antioxidants) found within the food.

Lastly, we must consider cachexia (body weight and muscle loss, with weakness) affects cancer patients, as does appetite loss, often as a treatment effect such as chemotherapy. Hence feeding your dog whatever he/she will eat to keep up with caloric needs is important. Offering a variety of foods or treats has the benefit of a broad vitamin and mineral profile, and a more balanced diet. An excellent resource helpful to Harley “Dog Boss” of the Paw Crusaders has been Harper and Friends who offer a varied selection of functional treats and toppers with available research and education. Thank you, Harper and Friends.

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