Wednesday, September 22, 2010
Cachexia and Protein Consumption
Cachexia is best known as a disease of cancer patients, but it is seen in patients with chronic infection, AIDS, heart failure, rheumatoid diseases and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
Contrary to what many think, this is not a disease caused by starvation. The loss in weight and body mass is driven by a metabolic disease manifested by increased energy consumption.
More commonly the person has lost a great deal of immune function and becomes susceptible to infection or cachexia can lead to metabolic disorders that can cause heart rhythm disturbances.
Cancer cachexia appears to be caused by chemicals given off by the tumor or by the patient's immune system that is trying to combat the tumor. These chemicals are called cytokines. Some cytokines have also been found to cause depression which can also of course cause loss of appetite which worsens the condition.
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I find that my body functions best with extra protein. I cannot get enough from a vegetarian diet (I'm allergic to soy).