Health Questions and Answers

Question: Can anabolic agents improve malnutrition in cancer patients?


The reason standard TPN fails to improve clinical outcomes is that standard TPN does not affect the changes in intermediary metabolism. The addition of metabolic agents or other biological response modifiers to TPN offers promise. Use of insulin improves protein balance in both cachectic animal and human studies. Growth hormone improves protein metabolism, wound healing, and immunologic status in surgical patients. Marrow stimulants can counteract toxic effects of chemotherapeutic agents. Further research is needed in these areas.

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