Send Us A Message

Have questions for us? Contact us to find out more.

The Role of Nutrition During Glioblastoma Treatment

July 31, 2023

According to Cancer Research UK, the largest independent cancer research organization in the world, there are roughly 200 cancers that can attack the body at any given time. They are each classified according to where they originated in the body and then further grouped based on the specific cell they started with, the primary ones being lymphoma and myeloma, leukemia, sarcoma, carcinoma, and brain and spinal cord cancers. Irrespective of the type of cancer someone develops, one thing is the same across the board. And that is how the disease destroys the body. Unlike healthy cells, which divide and then stop via a process known as apoptosis or programmed cell death, cancer cells keep dividing endlessly. That endless cell division eventually leads to the development of tumors, many of which are malignant or cancerous.


What More People Should Know About Glioblastoma


For those unfamiliar with glioblastoma, it is a fast-growing tumor that can affect the brain or spinal cord. It is also the most common kind of malignant brain tumor in adults. According to a study published by the Cleveland Clinic, a nonprofit academic medical center in Cleveland, Ohio, an estimated 13,000 people are diagnosed with glioblastoma in the U.S. each year. It develops primarily in individuals aged 45 to 70 and is slightly more common among men than women. While the exact cause of glioblastoma in adults is unknown, at least as of the writing of this article, several things are known to put men and women at heightened risk of developing it. Some of the more common glioblastoma risk factors include the following:


  • Being exposed to pesticides and other harmful chemicals
  • Genetic tumor-causing conditions, such as neurofibromatosis, Li-Fraumeni syndrome, and Turcot syndrome
  • Having previously undergone radiation therapy involving the head


Symptoms in Adults


Compared to many other cancers, glioblastoma symptoms tend to come on quickly, often blindsiding individuals before they can get an official diagnosis from a licensed physician.  Some of these rapid-onset symptoms include the following:


  • Changes in mood or personality
  • Headaches
  • Loss of appetite
  • Memory problems
  • Muscle weakness or balance problems
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Numbness, tingling, and other changes in sensation
  • Seizures
  • Speech problems
  • Vision problems


What Treatments Are Available to Individuals With Glioblastoma


As there is no cure for glioblastoma, treatments are focused squarely on shrinking the tumor that forms in the brain or on the spinal cord, which is enough to provide most people with meaningful relief from symptoms associated with the disease.  These treatments include the following:


  • Chemotherapy
  • Intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT)
  • Radiation therapy
  • Stereotactic radiosurgery
  • Surgery if the tumor is not too big
  • Targeted therapy
  • Tumor treatment fields (TTF)


The Role of Nutrition During Glioblastoma Treatments


In addition to modern-day medicine, diet plays a crucial role in treating and preventing brain cancers, glioblastoma being one of them. In a study published by the  National Institutes of Health (NIH), researchers found that following a very low-calorie ketogenic diet helps shrink glioblastoma tumors. An example of such a diet would be a low daily caloric intake of fewer than 800 kilocalories (kcal). It would also entail consuming fewer than 50 grams of carbohydrates daily and limiting protein intake to between 1 and 1.5 grams depending on body weight. Some of the delicious foods that are part of a low-calorie ketogenic diet include the following:


  • Avocados
  • Cheese
  • Chicken and eggs
  • Coconuts and olive oil
  • Nuts and seeds


Additional Foods Worth Including in a Glioblastoma Diet


Along with the delicious staples that make up a low-calorie ketogenic diet, consuming squash, orange bell peppers, carrots, sweet potatoes, and other orange vegetables can also shrink brain tumors and relieve symptoms associated with them. The same applies to spinach, kale, arugula, and other green vegetables. And that’s according to Frontiers in Nutrition, a multidisciplinary journal indexed in several international digital archives and repositories, including PubMed and Google Scholar. Because of how they fight off free radicals, blueberries, blackberries, and antioxidant-rich berries are effective in treating and also preventing glioblastoma.


Foods That Should Never Be Part of a Diet Patients or Anyone Hoping To Avoid the Disease


Certain foods should never be part of a diet for glioblastoma patients or anyone who would like to avoid such a diagnosis. According to the same data from Frontiers in Nutrition, grains, processed meats, and processed fish can contribute to or prematurely worsen glioblastoma.  The organization found that these foods can make individuals more susceptible to glioma, an infiltrative tumor that affects surrounding brain tissue. For reference, glioblastoma is one of many gliomas.

The long and short of it is glioblastoma is a devastating form of cancer that can quickly turn someone’s life upside down.  Although there is no cure for this particular cancer, modern-day treatments and eating cancer-fighting foods can make dealing with the disease easier than it would otherwise be.