NUTRITIONAL THERAPY BEYOND DRUGS
Obviously it is important for a cancer patient to maintain appetite. A good appetite and enjoyment of food is one of the four criteria of life quality that are considered when deciding on euthanasia. Beyond maintaining body condition and getting proper nutrients, however, there are actual nutrients and nutritional strategies that have anti-cancer properties.
LOW CARB DIET:
Cancer is particularly efficient at using carbohydrates. The “Low Carb” diet theory is that a diet restricted in carbohydrates will be inhibitory to tumor growth. This theory plus work with omega 3 fatty acids has led to the production of Hills N/D diet (N/D stands for “neoplasia diet,” with “neoplasia” being the scientific term for cancer). See the next section for details regarding omega 3 fatty acids in the treatment of cancer.
OMEGA 3 FATTY ACIDS:
WHAT IS A FATTY ACID?
Biochemically, a fatty acid is what we colloquially “fat.” When we talk about different types of fatty acids we are talking about different types of fat. A fatty acid consists of a long carbon chain (say 20 or so carbons in length) with a biochemical acid group at one end.
a saturated fat
SATURATED VS. UNSATURATED
Each carbon atom has four binding sites. In the carbon chain, two sites will be taken up by other carbons (ie the two adjacent carbons on the chain). In a saturated fat, the other two sites are taken up by hydrogen atoms. Saturated fats are typcially sold at room temperature (like lard and butter) and are generally of animal origin. Saturated fats are generally burned as fuel by our bodies.
Unsaturated fats have two adjacent carbons held together by a biochemical “double bond.” These fats are generally liquid at room temperature and are of plant origin (olive oil, corn oil etc.).
Unsaturated fats can be classified as “omega three” fatty acids or “omega six” fatty acids, depending on the location of the double bond relative to the acid group at the end of the chain. These types of fatty acids are Essential, meaning that our bodies cannot make them; instead, in order to get them we must eat them in our diet. These fats are not burned for fuel. Instead they are used as structural components. The Omega six fatty acids are used as the main structural components in our cells. Omega three’s are used in the structure of the retina and central nervous system.
For healthy skin and coat, the diet must contain adequate
Examples of Omega Six Fatty Acids (also called “n-6” fatty acids): Linoleic acid, gamma linolenic acid, and Arachadonic acid.
An excellent source would be Evening Primrose oil.
This is Linolenic Acid. Note the double bond between carbons 6 & 7 from the left.
Examples of Omega Three Fatty Acids (also called “n-3” fatty acids): Alpha linolenic acid, Eicosopentanoic acid, docosahexanoic acid.
An excellent source would be Cold Water Fish oils.
Both the “Low Carb” and Omega three fatty acid therapies have incorporated into Hills N/D diet which is available as a canned food and is available for dogs only.
SHOULD MY DOG USE THIS DIET?
This diet may be of tremendous benefit to a dog with lymphoma but there are a few caveats:
HOLLYWOOD BRAND SAFFLOWER OIL
So what is the catch? Should all lymphoma patients be on this oil? Safflower oil is an Omega 6 fatty acid. Omega 6 fatty acids have been shown in other studies to have properties that actually support cancer growth. At this point, Safflower oil seems to be a reasonable option only for Mycosis fungoides and not other forms of lymphoma.
Effect of fish oil, arginine, and doxorubicin chemotherapy on remission and survival time for dogs with lymphoma: a double-blind, randomized placebo-controlled study.
Cancer Lett 1992 May 30;64(1):17-22
The Use of Safflower Oil for the Treatment of Mycosis Fungoides in Two Dogs.