Because of how aggressive chemotherapy or other cancer treatment options can be on the body, patients often complain about taste and smell abnormalities (TSA), leading to loss of appetite or even anorexia.
The Food and Function journal presented an article exploring the possibility of using lactoferrin, a multifunctional protein with many bioactive properties, in order to relieve TSA effects. With nutrition being a crucial component in the recovery process, alleviating reported symptoms like food having “metallic flavor or aftertaste” could significantly improve healing times and general outcome.
“By suggesting lactoferrin as a dietary supplement, we can reduce TSA for many patients, restoring their ability to enjoy foods during a time in which nutrition can play a key role in their recovery”, said Susan Duncan, professor in the Department of Food Science and Technology at Virginia Tech and co-author of the paper.
It might seem like a trivial issue, but having a satisfying meal not only provides natural vitamins and minerals required for the healing process, it also helps on a psychological level, giving cancer patients a feeling of comfort and normalcy. Too often, in cases like these, people suffer from poor appetite, weight loss, diminished nutrition, and even depression.
Mrs. Duncan went on to say: “This research could help us develop TSA-targeted biomarkers and strategies for improving quality of life during chemotherapy. Cancer patients and their supporting family and friends may again find comfort in enjoying a meal together”.
The trial involved cancer patients and also 12 healthy subjects. They were administered 3 tablets per day (250 mg per tablet), for 30 days. Results showed consistently high traces of salivary proteome and minerals. Overall, Lactoferrin “increased the abundance (P < 0.05) of salivary α-amylase and Zn-α-2-GP, and led to an overall increase of expression (≥2-fold changes) of immune proteins including immunoglobulin heavy chain, annexin A1, and proteinase inhibitor”.
Ensuring adequate patient care and high quality of life is always a priority, especially when dealing with serious diseases like cancer