Long-Term Efficacy of Self-Care Techniques for Patients With Asbestos-Related Illnesses

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U.S. Navy veterans are the largest group of all military branches who have been diagnosed with severe respiratory illnesses associated with working around asbestos, such as malignant mesothelioma, asbestosis, pleural plaques, benign pleural effusion, and lung cancer. Many navy veterans found themselves exposed to asbestos daily during the military service, from serving on a ship, to the frequent repairs and refit, to stripping vessels in a Navy shipyard.

A cancer diagnosis is likely to feel overwhelming. Although survival rates for some cancers have increased in recent years because of advances in screening and medical treatments, individuals with cancer face unique challenges as they confront poor prognoses and arduous treatments. However, it turns out that cancer patients and survivors are given very little lifestyle advice, even though, behavioral lifestyle intervention in the early stages of malignant and nonmalignant illnesses has shown promising effectiveness.

Nutrition Therapy Plays an Important Role in Treating and Coping With Cancer

During most types of cancer and treatments, the body uses calories and protein for fuel to support healthy organs, muscle repair, and daily activity, which is why you need more calories and proteins. A balanced diet packed with nutrients can help cancer patients to stay strong and energetic, and better tolerate the full treatment prescribed.

The main nutritional goals during and after cancer treatment include getting enough:

  • Fluids to stay hydrated
  • Protein to maintain lean body mass
  • Nutrient-rich foods

Certain foods possess cancer-fighting properties. For example, cruciferous vegetables, including broccoli, cauliflower, kale, and cabbage, contain a potent compound that has been shown to reduce tumor size in mice by more than 50 percent. Similar to vegetables, fruits contain powerful antioxidants that protect healthy cells from many cancers. According to Gary D. Stoner, professor of internal medicine at the Ohio State University, berries contain very high concentrations of phytochemicals which slow down the growth of premalignant cells.

On the other hand, high consumption of processed meat, overcooked food, sugar and refined carbs are associated with an increased risk of certain diseases, including cancer. Getting help from a registered dietitian nutritionist during and after cancer treatment can improve your strength in healing and recovery from cancer treatments.

How to Ease Shortness of Breath Without an Inhaler

Physical activity - whether that's taking the stairs instead of the elevator, doing some gardening, going for a walk, bike, or run - is essential for cancer patients. Studies suggest that some level of physical activity can improve quality of life, mental outlook, helps reduce fatigue, weight gain, and loss of strength for people suffering from cancer even in advanced forms.

Furthermore, controlled, rhythmic breathing during physical exercise can help increase a person's lung capacity while building muscle strength for overall fitness, and also could lessen symptoms caused by asbestos exposure, which include:

  • Wheezing
  • Chest tightness
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath

Improving exercise endurance in patients with these respiratory symptoms leads to a lesser degree of pulmonary hyperinflation allowing them to exercise longer without excessive dyspnea. Physical training and breathing exercises may be helpful in reducing symptoms and improving quality of life.

Generally, doctors advise at least 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week of light-to-moderate activity such as walking or bicycling. You may also include aerobic activity; aerobic exercise uses large muscle groups and causes your heart rate to rise during the activity. Taking into account your fitness level, diagnosis, and other factors that could affect safety, better discuss to your health care team about developing an exercise plan that is safe and appropriate for you. It is also important to listen to your body and rest when you need to.

Vitamin Supplements in the Fight Against Cancer

Lack of appetite is common in cancer patients, and also a frequent side effect of chemotherapy, radiation, and immunotherapy treatments. Maintaining a good nutritional status may be difficult for cancer patients if they don't feel like eating. When you are unable to eat enough to meet your body's needs, dietary supplements such as vitamins, minerals, or products made from plants or algae, can be an effective way to provide the body the necessary nutrients.

Many dietary supplements contain levels of vitamins and minerals that are higher than the amount found in food. Your doctor may also advise using a dietary supplement if it's needed to treat a deficiency-related problem, such as anemia or osteoporosis, or to stimulate another aspect of health. Changes in metabolism can also lead to loss of appetite in a person with cancer. Supplements that contain fish oil or eicosapentaenoic acid, may help correct underlying changes in metabolism - which in fact, is the body's process of breaking down food and turning it into energy. Although the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has regulated supplements as food, not as drugs, don't take unless your cancer care team recommends a supplement for a specific reason.

According to the American Cancer Society's new report, in 2016, there were an estimated 15.5 million cancer survivors in the United States and 430,000 lung cancer survivals. This number is expected to increase to 20 million by 2026. Studies show that patients with advanced non-small cell lung cancer who began receiving supportive/palliative care from the first stage of the disease lived longer than patients who continued with standard treatments.

The life expectancy of patients with lung cancer, can be influenced by many factors, most important are the patient's overall health and response to treatment. If you are a veteran and have worked in the U.S. Navy, you were certainly exposed to dangerous levels of asbestos. For more information, contact us today at 760-621-6147.

Questions about asbestos exposure? We can help!

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