Does nutrition support stimulate tumor growth in humans?

Maurizio Bossola, Fabio Pacelli, Fausto Rosa, Antonio Pio Tortorelli, Giovanni Doglietto

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

14 Citations (Scopus)


Many studies have been conducted to ascertain if nutrition support (NS), either as parenteral nutrition (PN) or enteral nutrition (EN), stimulates tumor growth and causes cancer progression, but after almost 30 years, the question remains at least in part unresolved. In this study, previous studies were reviewed to evaluate the effect of NS on tumor growth, tumor proliferation, tumor apoptosis, and cancer-related survival in humans. MEDLINE and PubMed were searched using combinations of the following keywords: PN, EN, tumor growth, tumor proliferation, tumor apoptosis, arginine, ω-3 fatty acids, and glutamine. Unfortunately, the effect of nutrition support on tumor growth has been assessed only in terms of tumor proliferation, whereas the interferences on tumor apoptosis have never been determined. Overall, the results seem conflicting and inconclusive. Similarly, it remains unknown if PN or EN enriched with specific nutrients such as arginine, ω-3 fatty acids, and glutamine can affect tumor growth in humans. It is hoped that further studies will elucidate if NS with conventional or specific nutrients stimulates tumor proliferation, interferes with tumor apoptosis, and causes cancer progression.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)174-180
Number of pages7
JournalNutrition in Clinical Practice
Publication statusPublished - 2011


  • Apoptosis
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Disease Progression
  • Food, Formulated
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms
  • Nutritional Support


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