Multiple myeloma and nutrition
Multiple myeloma is a type of cancer that affects plasma cells, which are a part of your immune system. According to the American Cancer Society, more than 30,000 people in the United States will be newly diagnosed with multiple myeloma in 2018.
If you have multiple myeloma, the side effects of chemotherapy may cause you to lose your appetite and skip meals. Feeling overwhelmed, depressed, or scared about the condition can also make it hard for you to eat.
Maintaining good nutrition is important, especially while you’re undergoing treatment. Multiple myeloma can leave you with damaged kidneys, reduced immunity, and anemia. Some simple diet tips can help you feel better and give you the strength to fight back.
Anemia, or a low red blood cell count, is a common complication in people with multiple myeloma. When cancerous plasma cells in your blood multiply, there isn’t enough room for your red blood cells. Essentially, the cancer cells crowd out and destroy the healthy ones.
A low red blood cell count can cause a variety of problems, including:
- feeling cold
Low levels of iron in your blood can also cause anemia. If you’ve developed anemia because of multiple myeloma, your doctor may suggest that you eat more foods containing iron. A boost in iron levels can help you feel less tired and will also help your body make more healthy red blood cells.
Good sources of iron include:
- lean red meat
- bell peppers
- Brussel sprouts
- sweet potatoes
- tropical fruits, such as mango, papaya, pineapple, and guava
Kidney-friendly diet tips
Multiple myeloma also causes kidney disease in some people. As cancer crowds out healthy blood cells, it can cause a breakdown of bone. This is important because your bones release calcium into your blood. Cancerous plasma cells can also make a protein that goes into your bloodstream.
Your kidneys need to work harder than normal to process the extra protein and extra calcium in your body. All this extra work can cause your kidneys to become damaged.
Depending on how well your kidneys are functioning, you may need to adjust your diet to protect your kidneys. You might need to cut back on the amount of salt, alcohol, protein, and potassium you eat.
The amount of water and other fluids you drink may have to be restricted if your kidneys are severely damaged. You may need to eat less calcium if your blood calcium levels are high because portions of your bone are destroyed from cancer. Ask your doctor before making any dietary changes due to kidney disease.