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Leukemia Diet


Acute myeloid leukemia is the most common type of leukemia. It is the cancer of the cells that convert into white blood cells and originate in the bone marrow. Generally, it affects people over 40, with the average age for myeloid leukemia patients being 67 in the United States.

Nobody knows exactly what causes myeloid leukemia, although there are a number of theories going around. There are a few carcinogens that directly link to the incidence of myeloid leukemia, with benzene being one of the major culprits. Radiation and diet have also been linked to myeloid leukemia.

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In this article, we deal with the most likely cause of myeloid leukemia, specifically in relation to diet.

Does diet cause myeloid leukemia?


Recent studies indicate that diet can both cause as well as prevent the incidence of myeloid leukemia. A detailed explanation is given below.

Studies have showed that there is a direct relationship between obesity and the incidence of myeloid leukemia, with larger, more obese people being more prone to being affected than normal weight people. Although these studies are in their infancy with regards to humans, studies conducted on lab rats have shown that there is a statistically significant relationship between body size/weight and myeloid leukemia.

Analysis of statistics concerning myeloid leukemia patients have showed that people who eat more meat are more prone to being affected than those who eat vegetables and fruits. Further studies conducted into method of cooking shows that it is the preparation method of the meat, which induces carcinogens to form.

When meat is cooked at high temperatures, the reaction between the amino acids and creatinine found in meat gets converted to 2-amini-1-methyl-9-phenylimidazo (4,5-b) pyridine or PhIP, which is a known carcinogen.

The minimum daily intake of PhIP in order to cause leukemia is not known. However, the methods of cooking that increase levels of PhIP in meat are as listed below.

  • Frying
  • Flame grilled barbecue

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Restricted diet has shown a statistically significant reduction in incidence of myeloid leukemia when compared to the control group.

This means that eating less somehow prevents myeloid leukemia which correlates with earlier tests which show a relationship between obesity and the incidence of myeloid leukemia.

How does diet prevent myeloid leukemia?

Studies have shown that a calorie-restricted diet prevents myeloid leukemia. The exact mechanism behind how this happens is not known. Studies on rats have, however, confirmed that high levels of radiation when applied to rats on a calorie-restricted diet have shown a statistically significant reduction in the incidence of myeloid leukemia when compared to the control group.

This means that eating less somehow prevents myeloid leukemia, which correlates with earlier tests that show a relationship between obesity and the incidence of myeloid leukemia.

Symptoms of myeloid leukemia

Some of the symptoms of acute myeloid leukemia are

  • Fever
  • Fatigue
  • Bleeding from gums and nose
  • Pain in the bones
  • Shortness of breath
  • Skin rashes
  • Weight loss
  • Heavy menstrual periods

None of these symptoms are themselves an indication of myeloid leukemia. If you feel that you have these symptoms, consult with your doctor immediately.

Treatment

The most common treatment is chemotherapy, which kills the cancer cells. Antibiotics are also given to fight infections that arise as a result of lowered immune system. Bone marrow transplant is done after chemotherapy.

Is there any specific leukemia diet to follow?

There is no specific diet to follow for myeloid leukemia. People who have undergone stem cell transplant will be put on a neutropenic diet, which is a diet with very low to no bacteria present in it. However, considering the results of the studies as detailed above, it is probably a good idea to follow certain dietary practices as given below.

Foods to include: Foods to eat are those without carcinogens in them such as fresh fruit, vegetables, and whole grain cereals.

Foods to avoid: It is probably a good idea to avoid eating too much of fried meat. Usually, home cooked meat even when fried does not reach sufficiently high temperatures to induce the formation of carcinogens, and PhIP is found only in trace quantities. It is therefore a good idea to eat home cooked meat rather than from outside.

References
http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000542.htm
http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000570.htm

Submitted on July 31, 2012
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