09 September 2010

Muscle Wasting in Cancer Does Not Spare the Heart

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The wasting disease associated with some cancers that is typically seen affecting skeletal muscles can also cause significant damage to the heart, new research in mice suggests.
Before now, cachexia, characterized by muscle wasting and dramatic weight loss, was believed to spare the heart. But an Ohio State University study showed that the condition reduces heart function and changes the heart muscle structure in mice with colon cancer.

Previous studies have suggested that cachexia is responsible for between one-fifth and one-third of all cancer deaths. But many aspects of the condition remain misunderstood, including its cause and ways to predict who is at highest risk for the syndrome.

These new study findings could have immediate implications for treatment, said Martha Belury, lead author of the research and a professor of human nutrition at Ohio State.

"I think if we know certain types of cancer are associated with this wasting disease, it might be important to think about heart function earlier rather than once people are starting to lose weight. Clinicians could try to protect the heart while also giving patients chemotherapy for cancer and perhaps added nutrition to maintain weight," Belury said.

(ScienceDaily)

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