The role of protein in the nutrition of cancer patients

Each year, on average, about 140 thousand Poles are diagnosed with cancer. The World Health Organization warns that by 2030 the incidence of cancer will increase by as much as 75%, so 22.2 million people will suffer from cancer. Currently, about 350 thousand. patients suffer from oncological diseases, and in the next ten years – according to estimates – this number may increase to 600,000. Since the development of the disease can lead to a deficiency of protein in the human body, it is important to ensure that this nutrient is supplied in our diet during illness.

1. Why is protein supply so important in cancer?

Proteins have many important functions: building, regulating and transporting, they are part of enzymes that are necessary for the proper functioning of cells, tissues and organs. Participants include in the digestion of food, they transfer information between organs (and regulate their functions), for antibodies.

A patient with cancer often takes fewer meals, so the energy needed for the proper functioning of the body is obtained from proteins – first from those contained in the muscles, then from other organs. When there is a protein deficiency, incl. our immunity drops, which makes us more susceptible to infections.

During cancer, an adequate level of protein in the body is particularly important, also because the action of many drugs in cancer therapy depends on the amount of proteins. Most cytostatic drugs are transported with their help, hence the effect largely depends on the protein level . This component is also important in the proper course of radiotherapy, because its deficiency may affect the effectiveness of irradiation and side effects. Protein is also important in the case of surgery due to the fact that in a patient with a deficiency of nutrients, complications after the procedure may occur much more often.

2. How to ensure the correct level of protein?

The diet should be rich in all nutrients (especially protein) and provide the body with the right amount of calories. Since the patient has a lower appetite and often finds it difficult to eat, it is important to enrich the patient’s diet with nutrients that are rich in energy and protein. The oncological patient should also remember that his should be varied and wholesome.