Oral nutritional interventions help increase nutritional intake and improve some aspects of quality of life in malnourished cancer patients or those who are at nutritional risk, but do not affect mortality, according to a study.
The American Cancer Society estimated 12 million new cancer diagnoses worldwide in 2007 and expects the number to more than double in the next 50 years. Although international guidelines in the past have suggested a nutritional intervention with dietary advice and/or oral nutritional supplements for malnourished cancer patients or in cancer patients who are at nutritional risk, these suggestions are based largely on expert opinion as opposed to clinical trials.
To determine the effectiveness of oral nutritional interventions on the QOL of malnourished cancer patients and those who are at nutritional risk, Christine Baldwin, PhD, RD, lecturer at the Nutritional Sciences Division at King’s College in London, and colleagues electronically searched several databases for randomized control trials of cancer patients who were malnourished or at risk of malnutrition and receiving oral nutritional support compared to patients who received routine care.
The researchers examined 13 studies for a total of 1,414 patients. They measured the mortality, weight, energy intake and QOL of patients taking nutritional interventions compared to those on routine care.
The researchers found that nutritional intervention resulted in a wide range of effects on both weight and energy intake. The researchers also found statistically significant improvements in aspects of QOL such as emotional functioning, dyspnea and loss of appetite. But the nutritional intervention had no influence on mortality.
“The findings suggest that oral nutritional interventions have no effect on survival and that the effect on body weight and energy intake is inconsistent but that statistically significant improvements on some aspects of QOL may be achieved,” the researchers wrote.
Researchers noted several limitations of the study, namely the clinical and statistical heterogeneity of the studies. “It is not possible, therefore, to explain the difference found between studies, but it is likely that the factors such as site and stage of disease and indeed variations in the duration, nature and intensity of the nutritional intervention will account for differences in effects in patients.”
The study appears in the Feb. 15 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. To read a summary and access the study via subscription or purchase, visit http://bit.ly/x4gwG1.