Different studies indicate that Curcumin, Vitamin D and fruits may reduce, and obesity causing foods such as red and processed meat, fried foods and sweetened beverages may increase the progression of a non-cancerous health condition called Monoclonal Gammopathy of Undetermined Significance (MGUS) to its related cancers such as Waldenstrom Macroglobulinemia (WM) or Myeloma. For Waldenstrom Macroglobulinemia, while a diet containing foods such as cabbage, eggplant, onion, blueberry and pecan nut may be beneficial, taking foods such as radish, cherry, margarine, sorghum and lotus may not help. Hence, a personalized nutrition/diet including scientifically right foods and supplements, and a healthy lifestyle are important to reduce the risk of non-cancerous MGUS as well as its development to related cancers such as Waldenstrom Macroglobulinemia or Myeloma.
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What is Monoclonal Gammopathy of Undetermined Significance/MGUS?
Monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance or MGUS is an abnormality of the antigen producing cells. It is a rare medical condition in which an abnormal protein called the M protein or Monoclonal protein is produced within the bone marrow by abnormal plasma cells, which otherwise produce antibodies that help us fight infections. As a result, M protein is detected in the blood of MGUS patients.
MGUS is usually benign or non-cancerous and may not always result in health problems. However, up to 25% of people with MGUS, especially those with a monoclonal IgM protein, may develop into a rare blood cancer called Waldenstrom Macroglobulinemia, or myeloma (Leukemia & Lymphoma Society). In other words, MGUS may be the precursor to blood cancers such as Waldenstrom Macroglobulinemia or Myeloma.
MGUS is rare in people under the age of forty and is common in older people. Compared to women, men have a greater chance of diagnosis with MGUS. MGUS may not require treatment, however, regular checkups may be needed to monitor the health after the diagnosis. Medications may be taken for bone loss conditions associated with MGUS progression.
What is Waldenstrom Macroglobulinemia?
Waldenstrom macroglobulinemia (WM), a “lymphoplasmacytic lymphoma,” is a slow growing rare type of Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma. Its incidence is extremely low with only about 6 cases per million people per year in the United States. 1,000-1,500 new WM cases are diagnosed every year. It is more common in men than women and is especially seen in white people than other ethnic groups. People with a familial history of Waldenstrom macroglobulinemia may have an increased risk of this disease.
In WM, the abnormal cells grow in the bone marrow thereby interfering with the normal blood production. Thus, the healthy red blood cells which carry oxygen, the white blood cells which fight infection, and the platelets which help with blood clotting become crowded.
A reduction in red blood cells can lead to anemia; low numbers of white cells can lead to infections; and a low platelet count can result in increased bleeding.
What are the Symptoms of Waldenstrom Macroglobulinemia?
Being a slow growing cancer, patients with Waldenstrom macroglobulinemia (WM) may usually wont show any signs and symptoms for several years. However, when Waldenstrom macroglobulinemia progresses, it may lead to some signs and symptoms.
Some of the common signs and symptoms of Waldenstrom macroglobulinemia (WM) are:
- Bleeding from the nose, gums or lining of the gastrointestinal tract
- Weight loss
- Night Sweats
- Prone to bruising
- Frequent infections
- Numbness in the hands or feet
- Changes in vision
- Shortness of breath
- Confusions and dementia
What are the Treatment Options for Waldenstrom Macroglobulinemia?
Waldenstrom macroglobulinemia is usually treatable with available therapies/treatments, but is not curable. The treatments for Waldenstrom macroglobulinemia may also be aimed at improving the quality of life and reducing possible side effects. Some of the common treatments used for Waldenstrom macroglobulinemia include:
- Targeted Therapy
- Stem Cell transplantation
- Treatment with Steroids
- Blood Transfusions
- Plasma exchange
Different clinical trials may also be available for the patients to try out treatment options currently explored for Waldenstrom macroglobulinemia. Since Waldenstrom macroglobulinemia is a slow growing cancer, it may not show symptoms in the early stage and treatment may be delayed.
Are Diet and Life-Style Factors associated with MGUS and its development to cancers like Waldenstrom Macroglobulinemia?
Following a diet containing the right foods and supplements, and maintaining a healthy lifestyle are important to reduce the risk of health conditions like MGUS as well as its progression to other cancers such as Waldenstrom Macroglobulinemia or Myeloma. Following are examples of some foods and supplements associated with MGUS and its progression to the related cancers including Waldenstrom Macroglobulinemia.
1. Curcumin may be beneficial in reducing Bone Loss and Disease Progression in MGUS Patients
Myeloma is a cancerous condition characterized by high bone turnover and significant bone loss. Bone turnover refers to the process of destruction of bone tissues that promotes bone loss (bone resorption), followed by replacement by new bone. The progression of the MGUS disease to Multiple Myeloma can be measured by the rise in blood levels of paraprotein/M protein. During the progression, bone resorption may also be high.
A clinical trial done by St George Hospital in Sydney, Australia evaluated the effect of curcumin, a key ingredient present in Turmeric spice, on bone turnover in patients with MGUS and smoldering multiple myeloma (SMM). The study found that patients who received curcumin had reduced levels of markers associated with bone resorption. The clinical findings also suggested that curcumin might have the potential to slow the disease process in patients with MGUS and SMM. (Terry Golombick et al, Am J Hematol., 2012)
A previous study done by St. George Hospital had also found that Curcumin could reduce the M protein load and some markers related to bone resorption and may have the potential to reduce the progression to Myeloma. (Department of Endocrinology et al, Clin Cancer Res., 2009)
2. Impact of Vitamin D levels on Bone Metabolism in MGUS Patients
Researchers from the University of Rochester Medical Center, Kansas City VA Medical Center, University of Kansas Medical Center and Mayo Clinic Arizona in the United States, evaluated the impact of Vitamin D levels on bone metabolism in MGUS patients. The study found that Vitamin D3/cholecalciferol supplementation may improve the markers of bone health and metabolism in the MGUS patients. (Brea Lipe et al, Blood Cancer J., 2017)
Hence, taking a diet with Vitamin D rich foods including fishes such as salmon may be beneficial for MGUS patients.
3. Obesity may be a Key Risk Factor for the Progression from MGUS to Multiple Myeloma and Waldenstrom Macroglobulinemia
Researchers from different Universities in the Iceland, Sweden, New York and Bethesda carried out analysis of data from the population-based Age, Gene/Environment Susceptibility (AGES) – Reykjavik Study conducted in Iceland involving 5764 participants to understand whether obesity is associated with an increased risk of MGUS and also to find out whether it is linked to a higher risk of progression to Multiple Myeloma (MM) and lymphoproliferative diseases such as Waldenstrom macroglobulinemia. The study included a total of 300 MGUS cases. Out of these, it was found that 18 cases progressed to Multiple Myeloma and 11 to other lymphoproliferative diseases, after a mean follow-up of 8 years. (Marianna Thordardottir et al, Blood Adv., 2017)
The study found that obesity may not be associated with MGUS. However, the researchers found that overweight/obesity may be a risk factor for the progression of MGUS to Multiple Myeloma and other lymphoproliferative diseases such as Waldenstrom macroglobulinemia.
Hence, if diagnosed with MGUS, one should avoid taking a diet including obesity causing foods such as red meat and processed meat, fried foods, processed foods, sugar-sweetened beverages and fast foods to reduce the risk of progression to Multiple Myeloma and Waldenstrom macroglobulinemia.
4. Fruits Intake May help Reduce the Risk of MGUS
Based on data from the same population based Age, Gene/Environment Susceptibility (AGES) – Reykjavik Study conducted in Iceland, the researchers further evaluated the association between common foods and MGUS as well as its progression to Multiple Myeloma. The study found that when compared to those with lower fruit consumption, people who ate fruits at least thrice a week during adolescence had a 38% reduced risk of MGUS. (Marianna Thordardottir et al, PLoS One., 2018)
They also found that when compared to those with lower fruit consumption, people who ate fruit at least thrice a week during the late life period had a 66% reduced risk of progressing from MGUS to MM when compared to lower intake.
The researchers concluded that following a diet including fruits during adolescence may reduce the risk of MGUS, whereas taking fruits after MGUS onset may reduce the risk of progressing to Multiple Myeloma.
5. Other Foods Associated with Waldenstrom Macroglobulinemia
When it comes to the cancer care and prevention of Waldenstrom macroglobulinemia, it is really important to include the right foods and supplements as part of a healthy diet. While the consumption of foods such as Cabbage, Eggplant, Onion, Blueberry and Pecan nut may be beneficial, taking foods such as Radish, Cherry, Margarine, Sorghum and Lotus may not help. It is also better to avoid highly concentrated forms or supplements of Bitter melon, Coconut, Ginkgo biloba, Rye and Chitrak from the diet to stay safe while facing WM.
A diet including foods and supplements such as Curcumin, Vitamin D and fruits may help reduce the progression of MGUS to its related cancers such as Myeloma. However, obesity causing foods such as red and processed meat, fried foods and sweetened beverages may increase the progression of MGUS to Waldenstrom Macroglobulinemia or Myeloma. When it comes to Waldenstrom Macroglobulinemia, a diet containing foods such as cabbage, eggplant, onion, blueberry and pecan nut may be beneficial (possibly for reducing symptoms), however, intake of foods such as radish, cherry, margarine, sorghum and lotus may not help.
Cancer patients often have to deal with different chemotherapy side effects which affect their quality of life and look out for alternative therapies for cancer. Taking the right nutrition and supplements based on scientific considerations (avoiding guesswork and random selection) is the best natural remedy for cancer and treatment related side-effects.