Chinese researchers have discovered a connection between a patient’s nutrition and peritoneal mesothelioma prognosis. The medical community has always encouraged cancer patients to have healthy nutrition. Now researchers and doctors are getting closer to understanding how important that is and why.

The study measured patients’ overall nutrition and tested protein levels from the fluid buildup in the peritoneal cavity (ascites) to see if these tests showed any connection to a better or worse prognosis. The tests the researchers used for this are the CONUT score for nutrition and Ascites Lactate Dehydrogenase (LDH) for peritoneal fluid.

CONUT Score for Nutrition

To test the study participants’ nutrition, the researchers use the “CONUT” scoring system, which considers 3 things in a patient:

  • Serum albumin
  • Total cholesterol
  • Total lymphocyte count

Each of these receives its own rating, which contributes to the overall CONUT score. The serum albumin is ranked from 0 to 6, and both total cholesterol and total lymphocyte count are scored from 0 to 3 each.

Added up, these results create the CONUT score. The lower the CONUT score is, the better the patient is at maintaining healthy eating habits. For this particular study, a high CONUT score was anything over 3.

Serum Albumin Testing

Serum albumin is a protein made by the liver. One of its roles is to prevent blood vessels from leaking fluid. It also carries nutrients and hormones throughout the bloodstream and helps patients’ bodies grow and repair.

Total Cholesterol

Cholesterol is a type of fat made by the liver. The body uses cholesterol to help with digestion and to create hormones and vitamin D.

There are different types of cholesterol:

  • Low-Density Lipoprotein (LDL): Bad cholesterol that causes fatty buildup in the arteries, leading to heart disease and stroke.
  • High-Density Lipoprotein (HDL): Good cholesterol that works to prevent fatty buildup in arteries by removing excess cholesterol from the body.
  • Triglycerides: Another form of fat that travels through the bloodstream and is converted from extra calories to use for energy later.

A person’s total cholesterol level is determined by adding up a person’s LDL, HDL and one-fifth of their triglyceride levels.

Total Lymphocyte Count

Lymphocytes are a type of white blood cell. About a quarter of lymphocytes will become B-cells, the other three-quarters will turn into T-cells. Both types of lymphocytes help fight infection. Many current mesothelioma studies focus on how to get T-cells to fight mesothelioma cells.

Ascites Lactate Dehydrogenase

The other component that this study focused on was the buildup of fluid in the peritoneal cavity. This excess fluid is called ascites—a common peritoneal mesothelioma symptom. In the ascites fluid, the researchers measured the level of lactate dehydrogenase (LDH)—an enzyme that’s partially responsible for energy production.

The researchers determined that a high CONUT score and a high ascites LDH level directly relates to a patient having a poorer peritoneal mesothelioma prognosis. In other words, there is a strong connection between good nutrition and peritoneal mesothelioma prognosis. Their findings are similar to a 2017 study that focused on the CONUT score alone in mesothelioma prognosis.

Healthy Eating With Mesothelioma

If peritoneal mesothelioma patients focus on eating healthy and exercising they can change both their CONUT score and their LDH level. This means that even after being diagnosed, a person can improve their prognosis. It won’t be easy, but one study showed that LDH levels were changed within 40 days of changing a person’s eating habits.

Here are a few tips to help you eat healthier with peritoneal mesothelioma:

  • Avoid sugary foods and beverages
  • Eat at least 5 or more servings of fruits and vegetables daily (especially onions, garlic, berries, celery, broccoli and parsley, which can reduce inflammation in your abdomen)
  • Eat foods high in fiber
  • Eat fish like salmon and tuna that are high in omega-3 fatty acids
  • Focus on foods high in good-quality protein like eggs, tuna, soy products and legumes

When you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, it is essential for you to continue to care for your basic health. As this study points out, the connection between nutrition and peritoneal mesothelioma means it’s beneficial to focus on eating healthy and staying active.

View Author and Sources

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Last modified: February 27, 2019