Multiple Myeloma and Nutrition


I frequently get questions about the proper nutritional diet for multiple myeloma patients, and I usually refer these patients to Danny Parker.  Danny is the go to guy when it comes to those foods that are good for the patient and those that are not good or can in fact cause myeloma drugs to be less effective.  Danny has been featured on Pat Killingsworth’s web site Living With Multiple Myeloma.  On the top of this site is a search box that you can enter Danny Parker or nutrition, and get a wealth of information.    One surprise to me was aspartame usage in which a large scale study stated the following.

The combined results of this new study showed that just one 12-fl oz. can (355 ml) of diet soda daily leads to:

– 42 percent higher leukemia risk in men and women (pooled analysis)
– 102 percent higher multiple myeloma risk (in men only)
– 31 percent higher non-Hodgkin lymphoma risk (in men only)

These results were based on multi-variable relative risk models, all in comparison to participants who drank no diet soda. It is unknown why only men drinking higher amounts of diet soda showed increased risk for multiple myeloma and non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Note that diet soda is the largest dietary source of aspartame (by far) in the U.S. Every year, Americans consume about 5,250 tons of aspartame in total, of which about 86 percent (4,500 tons) is found in diet sodas.

This is just one 12 ounce serving, so just think of the heavy diet soda drinker.  However, as a caveat one analysis said the difference may just be due to chance.  They must be working for one of the major soft drink companies.  A 102% error???  One thing for sure in this study, it pays to be female!  

One of Danny’s posts shown on Pat’s site about nutrition is below for your convenience.

Diet and Multiple Myeloma:  Danny Parker’s dietary recommendations Posted on November 26 2012 by Pat Killingsworth | 7,593 views

So, over the last year, we’ve examined many facets of diet and myeloma. Rather than send you looking for each segment, I thought it would be useful to summarize what we’ve learned in one place.

So what are our recommendations for helpful diet from these various sources we’ve covered over the last months?

∙           Increase levels of protein consumption, particularly for fish and soy.

∙           Increase consumption of cruciferous vegetables (radishes, broccoli,   cabbage, cauliflower, watercress)

∙           Eat more fruits and herbs with ursolic acid: apples, basil, cranberries.

∙           Within the diet, emphasize fruits with pterostilbene: blueberries, grapes, acai and rhubarb

∙           Include papaya, pomegranate and pomegranate juice in your fruit choices

∙           Enjoy cooked and stewed tomatoes

∙           Add turmeric and curries to the spices you cook with

∙           Include parsley (agigene) in your diet—parsley pesto, added to soups and other dishes.

∙           Try to use whole grains for wheat, rice and pasta (smooths spikes in blood glucose)

∙           Eat cheeses with Vitamin K2: Gouda, Asiago, Parmesan, Emmenthaler and Jarlsberg

∙           Moderate alcohol consumption (resveratrol containing red wines being a good choice)

∙           Consider a Vitamin D and a fish oil supplement particularly if fish consumption is low

            Don’t forget to consider using a curcumin supplement in consultation with your doctor

Things to avoid or reduce: ∙        

  Asparagus (L-Asparagine)

∙           Fried foods, particularly French fries and potato chips (acrylamide)

∙           Excessively toasted breads and baked goods (acrylamide)

∙           Excessive coffee consumption due to acrylamide (perhaps substitute some tea)

∙           Reduce simple carbohydrates and excess sugar consumption**

∙           Cut down on butter and sweetened dairy products (ice cream, puddings etc.)

∙           Try to avoid highly processed foods, MSG, artificial colorings etc.

∙           Avoid artificial sweeteners such as aspartame (e.g. Diet Sodas)

∙           Avoid Vitamin C supplements, EGCG and green tea on Velcade days

** Particularly important on Dex days; avoid simple carbohydrate includes refined flours and potatoes.

Avoid supplements with Glucosamine or Hyaluronic Acid.  Avoid supplements with Glutamine: helps your stomach, but may also help MM cells

Alpha Lipoic Acid: may reduce neuropathy with Velcade, but also may compromise its effectiveness    

As one can see from the above, the preferred diet for myeloma patients has much in common with that for diabetic patients—important to target a steady blood sugar.  For instance, recent research  shows a 20% increased risk of blood cancers from those suffering Type 2 diabetes, pointing to the likelihood that we will do best with a diet similar to those looking to prevent diabetes, particularly if our blood glucose is high. In any case, if you are going to have a carbohydrate or sugar rich portion of your meal, it is better to take these after consuming the salad or protein base so that digestion proceeds slowly and blood glucose levels rise in a smooth fashion.

So, what kind of differences will such dietary changes make? Of course, we don’t know. But each of the recommendations are based on research results from the myeloma community that we have covered over the previous months. Full details, with links, are available there.

However, the suggestion is that following these recommendations—even to make incremental changes to our eating habits—might convey some advantages in our effort to live well with multiple myeloma.

If you’re like me, you’ll take every advantage you can get! 

Nutrition is an indispensable part of surviving–and thriving–with multiple myeloma.   How much difference does it make?  Hard to tell.  If nothing else, it’s something we can control.  Eating well helps our bodies withstand continual therapy.

There have been several additions to the lists since then.  I’ll focus on them tomorrow.

Feel good and keep smiling!  Pat

Good luck and may God Bless your Cancer Journey.   For more information on multiple myeloma survival rates and treatments CLICK HERE and you can follow me on twitter at:

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