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What To Eat & Avoid When You Have Paraneoplastic Syndrome?

Paraneoplastic syndrome is a collection of signs and symptoms caused due to various factors which are usually distantly related with the underlying cancerous disease in the body but the immediate vicinity of the organ involved in the cancer is not responsible for them[1]. It is likely that the paraneoplastic syndrome occurs away from the site of cancer and it is not usually directly linked to it.

What To Eat When You Have Paraneoplastic Syndrome?

First of all, get the medications from a recognized doctor and take them accordingly on time. Do notify if any change is felt or the symptoms seem to have progressed.

Some of the paraneoplastic syndromes have endocrine complications like reduced urea, amino acids like alanine, etc. in the body. These components in the blood can be replenished by eating a protein-rich diet which is usually seen in pulses, legumes, meat, liver, nuts, etc.

In renal paraneoplastic syndrome, hypoalbuminemia is found which is due to excessive filtration of albumin and can be replenished by protein-rich diet especially in albumin content. Albumin rich food items include chicken, cottage cheese, deviled eggs, omelet, fish, yogurt, etc.

Gastrointestinal paraneoplastic syndromes are usually associated with malabsorption syndrome resulting in decreased vitamin b12 and cholesterol absorption; so vitamin b12 has to be provided in the diet which is commonly found in meat, liver, fish, and other non-vegetarian products[2]. Fatty acid-rich diet it is important along with cholesterol so as to maintain minimal levels of these components in the blood. It can be taken in the diet with fat-rich products like ghee, butter, etc.

In hematologic paraneoplastic syndromes there are various types of anemias like chronic anemia, aplastic anemia, autoimmune hemolytic anemia, etc. and other disorders like diffuse intravascular coagulation, where the hemoglobin concentration in the blood decreases to very low values for which folic acid and iron are very important to replenish the hemoglobin stores. Folic acid rich foods include nuts like almonds, cashew nuts; green leafy vegetables, liver, etc. Iron-rich foods include green leafy vegetables, cereals, jaggery, guar etc.

An adequate amount of water has to be taken in a day so as to reduce the toxicity and efficient excretion of the drugs by the kidneys.

What To Avoid When You Have Paraneoplastic Syndrome?

Any additional drugs, ayurvedic medicines are all to be avoided and only prescription drugs to be taken under professional guidance.

Commonly encountered paraneoplastic syndrome is hypercalcemia which is seen in many tumors. So the diet taken should be low in calcium. The foods rich in calcium are usually dairy products like milk, cheese, and yogurt. Other foods rich in calcium are seafood, leafy green vegetables, legumes, dry fruits, tofu, and calcium-fortified foods[3]. These all are to be avoided in paraneoplastic syndrome having hypercalcemia as the main feature.

Some of the paraneoplastic syndromes have endocrine complications like hyperglycemia where foods rich in carbohydrates are to be avoided to decrease the amount of glucose formation in the blood which usually is used excessively by the cancer cells, may cause diabetes mellitus as well as results in kidney failure after some time. So the carbohydrate-rich food items like cereals, bananas, sweet potatoes, beetroots, etc. are to be avoided.

Spicy food has to be avoided because it may lead to abdominal pain which can mask the pain occurring due to the gastric paraneoplastic syndrome.


Due to the widespread involvement of the body parts and organs in the tumor and associated paraneoplastic syndromes the diet of the patient has to be well-planned and organized specifically for each individual patient. All the dietary factors associated with the paraneoplastic syndrome of the patient has to be kept in mind before making a dietary chart for the patient. Special care is needed in the constituents of the food so as to avoid the complications and help the tumor in the speedy recovery and elimination of the paraneoplastic syndrome.


Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:July 4, 2019

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