No two cancers are the same and neither should your nutrition be. The most commonly asked question to dieticians and oncologists globally is “What Should I Eat?”. The answer is “It Depends”. It depends on the type of cancer, current treatment and supplements being taken, age, gender, BMI, lifestyle and any genetic information available. In short – the answer to “What Should I Eat” for Melanoma needs to be personalized to minimize adverse interactions between nutrition (from foods/diet) and treatment, and to improve symptoms.
Foods like Bamboo and Onion should be eaten when undergoing Dabrafenib treatment for Melanoma. On the same lines, avoid foods like Yardlong Bean and Yam with treatment of Dabrafenib for Melanoma. Also, Black Seed supplements contain an active ingredient called Thymoquinone. Thymoquinone has CYP (drug metabolizing enzyme) interactions with Dabrafenib treatment and hence should be avoided.
You get the point – your nutrition needs to be personalized and it needs to be re-evaluated as soon as any of the conditions change. Create and follow a nutrition plan personalized to you to minimize adverse interactions of nutrition for cancers like Melanoma.
What is Melanoma?
Melanoma is a skin cancer that develops in the cells called melanocytes which produces the melanin pigment that gives color to the skin. The incidence rate of this cancer was 22.8 per 1 lakh people per year (2014-2018). This cancer is commonly diagnosed in people who are about 65 years of age, however, it can occur in people of any age. It is more commonly found in men as compared to women. (Keiran Sm Smalley et al, Elife., 2018)
Melanoma has prevalence of certain genetic changes. Some of the genes such as BRAF, LRP1B, MGAM, and FAT4 are known to have genetic abnormalities in this cancer resulting in a change of function.
The genetic abnormalities found in Melanoma can influence specific biochemical pathways to drive these cancer cells to aggressive growth and survive the ongoing treatment. In addition, lifestyle conditions or habits like smoking, alcohol consumption and BMI (Body Mass Index) can have a big influence on the response to your physician prescribed treatments for Melanoma. Numerous studies have consistently shown that your nutrition/diet – both food and nutritional supplements can adversely affect the treatment or be supportive or play no role. Hence, the triangulation of Melanoma genomics, planned or ongoing therapies and lifestyle need to be thoroughly considered to make decisions on what foods and supplements to consider and avoid while designing a diet/nutrition plan. Also, it is important to note that when any of these conditions change, like treatment or lifestyle or cancer diagnosis – it may impact the nutrition and the nutrition/diet plan for Melanoma nutrition may have to be redesigned.
Why Eating Right Matters for Melanoma?
In Melanoma, activation or inhibition of some of the biochemical pathways including Oxidative Stress, DNA Repair, Small Molecule Transport, Focal Adhesion, Extracellular Matrix Remodelling and PI3K-AKT-MTOR Signaling plays an important role in driving the disease. All foods and nutritional supplements contain active ingredients which have a specific molecular action on different biochemical pathways. Hence, while the intake of certain foods and nutritional supplements as part of the diet may support a specific treatment of Melanoma, eating few other foods and supplements may lead to adverse interactions with the treatment or may increase the cancer progression.
Example Foods to “Not Eat” and Eat with Dabrafenib treatment for Melanoma
The nutrition for cancer always depends on the type of cancer, treatments and supplements being taken (if any), age, gender, BMI, lifestyle and any genetic information available. Here we show an example of nutrition/diet for Melanoma considering only one specific treatment- Dabrafenib.
Foods to Avoid
Yardlong Bean : Yardlong Bean contains active ingredients such as Folic Acid, Oleic Acid, Vitamin C and others. Folic Acid interferes with the impact of Dabrafenib in Melanoma by activating a specific biochemical pathway called PI3K-AKT-MTOR Signaling. Hence, avoid foods like Yardlong Bean with Dabrafenib treatment for Melanoma.
Yam : Yam contains active ingredients such as Linoleic Acid, Folic Acid, Oleic Acid and others. Linoleic Acid interferes with the impact of Dabrafenib in Melanoma by activating a specific biochemical pathway called PI3K-AKT-MTOR Signaling. Hence, avoid foods like Yam with Dabrafenib treatment for Melanoma.
Foods to Eat
Bamboo : Bamboo contains active ingredients like Beta-sitosterol, Oleic Acid and Vitamin C. Intake of Beta-sitosterol along with Dabrafenib treatment for Melanoma causes a decrease in a specific biochemical pathway which is called PI3K-AKT-MTOR Signaling, and this is a very positive effect. Bamboo hence should be eaten with Dabrafenib treatment for Melanoma. (Song Hyo Sook et al, Phytother Res., 2014; Michael A Davies, Cancer J., Mar-Apr 2012; Terje Sundstrøm et al, Acta Neuropathol Commun., 2019)
Onion : Onion contains active ingredients like Ajoene, Protocatechuic Acid and Delphinidin. Intake of Ajoene along with Dabrafenib treatment for Melanoma causes a decrease in a specific biochemical pathway which is called PI3K-AKT-MTOR Signaling, and this is a very positive effect. Onion hence should be eaten with Dabrafenib treatment for Melanoma.
Should I take this Nutritional Supplement for Melanoma?
Black Seed : Black Seed nutritional supplements contain active ingredients such as Thymoquinone which have CYP3A4 interactions with Dabrafenib treatment, and hence should not be used. Also, Black Seed supplement interferes with the impact of Dabrafenib in Melanoma by increasing pathways like DNA Repair. (Ahmed A Albassam et al, Saudi Pharm J., 2018; Sarah K Lawrence et al, Drug Metab Dispos., 2014)
What are the Symptoms of Melanoma?
A new mole or a change in the appearance of an existing mole is one of the first signs or symptoms of melanoma. The size of the mole alone is not always not a symptom of melanoma. So, the signs and symptoms to look out for melanoma include a mole which is
- Getting bigger
- Changing its shape
- Changing its colour
- Bleeding or is becoming crusty
- Sore or Itchy
Though many of these symptoms may also be caused by other health conditions, consult your doctor if you experience these symptoms to rule out the possible chances of Melanoma. Also, it is not always necessary that Melanoma begins as a mole. It may also occur on a normal-appearing skin.
What are the Treatment Options for Melanoma?
The treatment for Melanoma may be decided based on different factors including the stage and extent of spread of the cancer, cancer characteristics, symptoms, patient’s general health and medical history, whether the cancer can be removed completely by surgery and whether the cancer was just diagnosed or had come back. The treatment options for Melanoma include:
- Targeted Therapy
Surgery is the most common treatment regimen used for early stage Melanomas and also for the removal of affected lymph nodes. Radiotherapy helps to shrink the tumor. The primary role of chemotherapy is in the treatment of metastatic disease. As part of the diet, avoid including those foods and supplements that may adversely interact with the treatments for Melanoma.
The two most important things to remember are that cancer treatments and nutrition are never the same for everyone. Nutrition/diet which includes food and nutritional supplements is an effective tool which is controlled by you, while facing cancer such as Melanoma.
What food you eat and which supplements you take is a decision you make. Your decision should include consideration of the cancer gene mutations, which cancer, ongoing treatments and supplements, any allergies, lifestyle information, weight, height and habits.
The nutrition planning for cancer from addon is not based on internet searches. It automates the decision making for you based on molecular science implemented by our scientists and software engineers. Irrespective of whether you care to understand the underlying biochemical molecular pathways or not - for nutrition planning for cancer that understanding is needed.
Get started NOW with your nutrition planning by answering questions on the name of cancer, genetic mutations, ongoing treatments and supplements, any allergies, habits, lifestyle, age group and gender.
Personalized Nutrition for Cancer!
Cancer changes with time. Customize and modify your nutrition based on cancer indication, treatments, lifestyle, food preferences, allergies and other factors.
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.