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Cancer patients told not to 'starve' themselves

The China Post news staff--Medical experts urged patients in advanced stages of cancer to avoid alternative treatment like fasting, which some misguidedly believe can “starve” a tumor.

Doctors cited some medical cases in which terminal cancer patients had starved themselves to death before killing the cancerous cells as intended.

When addressing a meeting of a Taiwan nutrition promotion association in Taipei yesterday, Professor Yeh Guang-yang, said a female patient of 52 years old ignored the scientific and medical treatments available but chose the fasting method suggested by some people and books sold at bookstores.

The patient consumed just water, vegetables and fruit in the hope of “starving” cancerous cells in liver. But she lost more than a dozen kilograms in weight in two months, going from 50 kg to 35 kg, and eventually died of liver failure.

Yeh, a doctor at the Keelung branch of the Chang Gung Memorial Hospital, said that the liver patient could have been able to live longer if she had taken advice from doctors to boost nutrition for stronger defense in the immunity system and fight against the cancerous tumor and cells.

Yeh and other medical experts said that patients should not believe in fasting or other alternative treatment as advocated by some people who claimed to have defeated the diseases.

The rare cases of recovery for certain individuals who ate no food or only juices do not prove that the same method and experience are applicable to all patients, they stressed.

Doctors and dietitians at hospitals will provide proper prescriptions plus diets and sufficient nutrition for patients, who should abide by scientific treatment programs.

Dr. Wang Cheng-hsu at the Keelung Chang Gung Memorial Hospital, who concurrently serves as chairman of the Taiwan Cancer Hope Foundation, said cancer patients commonly lose their appetite due to chemotherapy and the lack of exercise.

But they should communicate with doctors and dietitians to work out suitable diets with their preferential tastes to maintain adequate nutrition in the body system.

Dr. Hsieh Rui-kun at the Mackay Memorial Hospital said patients should not trust people who have been promoting sales of their expensive juice mixers or other equipment for certain vegetarian or organic food that are insufficient to supply adequate nutrition.

Patients should not fall into the traps set by profiteers that will cost them both money and valuable time for proper treatments, he said.

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