Health Questions and Answers

Question: What happens to fat metabolism in cancer patients?

Answer:

Cancer patients have decreased fat reserves. A reduced food intake certainly contributes to this, but there are alterations in lipid metabolism secondary to the presence of tumor. Cancer patients have increased lipid mobilization with increased oxidation of free fatty acids. They also have a decreased clearance of serum lipids. This lipid mobilization is facilitated by lipolytic substances which induce the release of free fatty acids from adipose tissue. This mobilization is not suppressed by glucose infusion and appears to be a function of the type and amount of tumor burden.

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