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Can Nutrition Help Improve a Mesothelioma Prognosis?

By Kaelyn Johnson, MPH, RD
A diagnosis of mesothelioma can be life-changing but proper nutrition may help with the prognosis for this form of cancer.

Mesothelioma is a form of cancer that affects the thin tissue called the mesothelium that can be found in the lungs, chest wall, and abdomen according to the National Cancer Institute. If you or a family has developed mesothelioma, you may be wondering whether a healthier lifestyle and diet can help. Let's discuss.

Prognosis for Mesothelioma

Being exposed to asbestos, by either inhalation or swallowing it, increases your risk of developing mesothelioma. After being exposed to asbestos, it is typical for mesothelioma to form and present itself after a long period. This means that living with a person who has been exposed to asbestos is also a risk factor.

Common signs and symptoms of mesothelioma, according to the National Cancer Institute include:

  • Lumps in the abdomen
  • Constipation
  • Cough
  • Blood clots forming
  • Pain under the rib cage
  • Unintended weight loss
  • Fatigue
  • Swelling and pain in the abdomen
  • Difficulty breathing

Life expectancy after diagnosis ranges from 5-10 percent over five years. Individuals with mesothelioma may be at risk if certain complications arise such as:

  • Respiratory failure
  • Pneumonia
  • Heart complications

Mesothelioma and Nutrition

Besides treatment with medicine, you may be wondering if the prognosis for mesothelioma can be improved with nutrition. Here's what registered dieticians have to say: 

  • A high protein diet may help. “To preserve immune function, muscle mass, and prevent malnutrition, those with mesothelioma should eat a high protein diet with a variety of different protein sources daily,” Megan Byrd, RD, tells WebMD Connect to Care. Byrd also notes that malnutrition and mesothelioma are often seen together due to elevated metabolism caused by cancer which emphasizes the need for a nutritious, high-protein diet.
  • Try increasing fruit and vegetable intake.“A plant-forward diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains is an excellent way to combat cancer cell proliferation,” Shena Jaramillo, MS, RD, tells WebMD Connect to Care. According to Jaramillo, meat and dairy may increase cancer cell reproduction, and highly processed foods may increase inflammation and weaken immune response. 

So, eating a protein-rich, nutritious diet while avoiding processed items may help improve the prognosis of mesothelioma. 

Legal Help is Available.

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, you may be entitled to financial compensation. Don’t wait. Get help now.