Summary of Medical Literature —Diet

Israels T, Borgstein E, Jamali M, de Kraker J, Caron HN, Molyneux EM. Acute malnutrition is common in Malawian patients with a Wilms tumour: A role for peanut butter. Pediatric Blood & Cancer. 2009; 53(7):1221-1226.

Abstract: Background: Children with cancer in resource limited countries are often malnourished at diagnosis. Acute malnutrition is associated with more infectious complications and an increased risk of morbidity and mortality in major surgery. Methods: All new patients with the clinical diagnosis of a Wilms tumour admitted in the Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital, Blantyre, Malawi from January 2007 until June 2008 were included. We documented anthropometric parameters, tumour size and serum levels of micronutrients at diagnosis. Corrected weight (body weight - tumour weight) was repeated after 4 weeks of preoperative chemotherapy. During therapy oral feeds were encouraged and a locally made ready to use therapeutic peanut butter-based food (chiponde) supplied. Results: A high rate of acute malnutrition was found in patients with Wilms tumour at diagnosis (45-55%), much higher than in community controls (11%). Patients (40%) and community controls (37%) had a similar, high rate of stunting (low height for age), a sign of chronic malnutrition. Tumour size at diagnosis and the degree of acute malnutrition at diagnosis was correlated; patients with a larger tumour had more severe acute malnutrition (r = -0.88, P < 0.01). With a supply of chiponde, 7 of 18 patients had a >5% increase in corrected weight during preoperative chemotherapy. Patients with a more positive nutritional course had a better tumour response to chemotherapy (r = 0.52, P < 0.05). Surprisingly, few micronutrient deficiencies were found, except for low serum levels of vitamin A (44% of patients). Conclusion: Acute malnutrition, superimposed on chronic malnutrition, is common in patients with Wilms tumour in Malawi. Earlier presentation needs to be encouraged. Chiponde, a peanut butter based ready-to-use-therapeutic-food, is an attractive means of nutritional support which needs further study. (c) 2009 Wiley-Liss, Inc.


De Koning BA,  Van Der Schoor SR, Wattimena DL, et al. Chemotherapy does not influence intestinal amino acid uptake in children. Pediatric Research. 2007; 62 (2): 195-199.

Abstract: Chemotherapy will frequently induce intestinal damage (mucositis). Enteral nutrition is then often withheld for fear of impaired intestinal absorption as shown in animal models. There is no clinical evidence, however, that absorption is indeed compromised during chemotherapy-induced mucositis. The aim of this study was to evaluate systemic availability of dietary amino acids (leucine) during chemotherapy-induced mucositis. We studied eight childhood cancer patients (age 1.5-16 y) on 2 d, i.e. the day before chemotherapy and 3-5 d after. Chemotherapy-induced oral mucositis and diarrhea were scored on a World Health Organization toxicity scale. Stable isotope tracers were used to measure first-pass splanchnic leucine uptake and whole-body leucine kinetics. Patients showed increased mucositis and/or diarrhea toxicity scores (p < 0.0001) after chemotherapy. Systemic availability of enterally administered leucine was not significantly affected by chemotherapy (before 60%, after 90%, p = 0.46). Interestingly, five patients already showed a negative leucine balance before chemotherapy. In conclusion, most children receiving chemotherapy are already catabolic before start of a new cycle of chemotherapy. Amino acid transport as measured by leucine uptake in the intestine is not affected by chemotherapy-induced mucositis.


Moody K, Finlay J, Mancuso C, Charlson M. Feasibility and safety of a pilot randomized trial of infection rate: Neutropenic diet versus standard food safety guidelines. Journal of Pediatric Hematology Oncology. 2006; 28(3): 126-133.

Summary: The neutropenic diet is an intervention that excludes certain foods, especially fresh fruits and vegetables, from the diets of pediatric oncology patients to reduce infection rate. The purpose of this study was to demonstrate a safe and feasible methodology to evaluate the infection rate in pediatric cancer patients randomized to the neutropenic diet or to Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved food safety guidelines. Pediatric oncology patients receiving myelosuppressive chemotherapy were randomized to the neutropenic diet or to FDA food safety guidelines and followed through one chemotherapy cycle. The primary outcome was febrile neutropenia. Secondary outcomes were adherence and diet tolerability. Nineteen patients were enrolled. Four patients on each diet arm developed febrile neutropenia. The adherence rate was 94% for the neutropenic diet and 100% for the food safety guidelines. Although patients were able to tolerate both diets, there was more reported difficulty adhering to the neutropenic diet. Infection rates for children with cancer on the neutropenic diet were similar to those for patients following food safety guidelines. The results of this study suggest that a larger randomized trial to determine the effectiveness of food safety guidelines in minimizing the risk of food borne infection is safe and feasible in children with cancer. © 2006 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.


Nebeling L, Lerner E. Implementing a ketogenic diet based on medium-chain triglyceride oil in pediatric patients with cancer. Journal of the American Dietetic Association. 1995; 95: 693-7.

Abstract: Traditionally, a ketogenic diet is given to drug-resistant children with epilepsy to improve seizure control. Inducing a ketogenic state in patients with cancer may be a useful adjunct to cancer treatment by affecting tumor glucose metabolism and growth while maintaining the patient's nutritional status. A ketogenic diet consisting of 60% medium-chain triglyceride (MCT) oil, 20% protein, 10% carbohydrate, and 10% other dietary fats was provided to a select group of pediatric patients with advanced-stage cancer to test the effects of dietary-induced ketosis on tumor glucose metabolism. Issues of tolerance and compliance for patients consuming an oral diet (consisting of normal table foods and daily MCT oil "shakes") and for patients receiving an enteral formula are reviewed. Preliminary use of the MCT oil-based diet suggests a potential in pediatric patients with cancer. Copyright © 2008 Elsevier B.V.


Nebeling LC, Miraldi F, Shurin SB, Lerner E. Effects of a ketogenic diet on tumor metabolism and nutritional status in pediatric oncology patients: two case reports. Journal of the American College of Nutrition. 1995; 14(2): 202-208.

Abstract: Objective: Establish dietary-induced ketosis in pediatric oncology patients to determine if a ketogenic state would decrease glucose availability to certain tumors, thereby potentially impairing tumor metabolism without adversely affecting the patient's overall nutritional status. Design: Case report. Setting: University Hospitals of Cleveland. Subjects: Two female pediatric patients with advanced stage malignant Astrocytoma tumors. Interventions: Patients were followed as outpatients for 8 weeks. Ketosis was maintained by consuming a 60% medium chain triglyceride oil-based diet. Main outcome measures: Tumor glucose metabolism was assessed by Positron Emission Tomography (PET), comparing [Fluorine-18] 2-deoxy-2-fluoro-D-glucose (FDG) uptake at the tumor site before and following the trial period. Results: Within 7 days of initiating the ketogenic diet, blood glucose levels declined to low-normal levels and blood ketones were elevated twenty to thirty fold. Results of PET scans indicated a 21.8% average decrease in glucose uptake at the tumor site in both subjects. One patient exhibited significant clinical improvements in mood and new skill development during the study. She continued the ketogenic diet for an additional twelve months, remaining free of disease progression. Conclusion: While this diet does not replace conventional antineoplastic treatments, these preliminary results suggest a potential for clinical application which merits further research.

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Last updated: March 3, 2011