(HealthDay News) – Nutritional intervention may improve quality of life (QOL) measures in cancer patients with malnutrition, but has no effect on survival rates, according to a study published online Feb. 15 in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

Christine Baldwin, PhD, RD, of King’s College London, and colleagues performed a meta-analysis of 13 randomized controlled trials, which included 1,414 patients with cancer who were malnourished or at risk of malnutrition. Weight, energy intake, QOL, and relative risk (mortality) were calculated to determine the effectiveness of oral nutritional interventions versus routine care.

Compared to routine care, the researchers found that use of oral supplements for cancer patients correlated with a statistically significant improvement in weight and energy intake (P=0.02 and P=0.001, respectively), although there was considerable clinical and statistical heterogeneity. However, after adjusting for the main sources of heterogeneity, the difference in weight gain or energy intake was no longer statistically significant. The nutritional intervention had beneficial effects on some aspects of QOL, but no impact on mortality (relative risk, 1.06; P=0.43; Pheterogeneity = 0.56).

“Oral nutritional interventions are effective at increasing nutritional intake and improving some aspects of QOL in patients with cancer who are malnourished or are at nutritional risk but do not appear to improve mortality,” the authors write.

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