Medical Drink May Help Quell GI Side Effects From Chemotherapy


Patients who used a medical beverage during chemotherapy treatment tended to have fewer gastrointestinal side effects and hospital visits, a small study showed.

A plant-based amino acid beverage helped alleviate gastrointestinal side effects in patients with cancer who were undergoing chemotherapy treatment, according to research presented at the Oncology Nursing Society 48th Annual Congress.

These outcomes highlight the potential cost savings, both for patients and health care systems, by using these types of nutritional supplements, explained Laura Mitchell, study co-author and oncology nurse specialist at Baptist Health Louisville.

“Significant cost savings may be realized by organizations that order Enterade for patients who are receiving chemotherapy regimens (that are) likely to cause (gastrointestinal) symptoms by avoiding unplanned visits, IV hydration and hospitalizations,” she said while presenting the findings at the Congress.

Researchers from Baptist Health Louisville in Kentucky analyzed self-reported gastrointestinal symptoms in 97 patients being treated with chemotherapy: 37 patients used Enterade, an amino acid-based, glucose-free oral rehydration medical food, while 60 patients had no use of the drink. Symptoms were noted at the start of the study, then before treatment cycles 2 through 4.

Findings showed that there was a significant decrease in hospital days for those who used Enterade (average of 1.03 hospital days) compared to those who did not (average of 2.08 hospital days). There was also a lower percentage of patients on the Enterade group who had to stop their treatments. Patients using Enterade were given 16 bottles of the drink, free of charge.

Additionally, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea tended to decrease after patients began to use Enterade.

Chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting is, unfortunately, a very common chemotherapy side effect, affecting up to 80% of patients, according to the National Cancer Institute.

READ MORE: I Shouldn’t Have to Pretend ‘Minor’ Side Effects From Cancer Treatment Don’t Bother Me

"The findings are promising in terms of the significant positive impact that Enterade can have on improving patient treatment outcomes," Cynthia Wigutow, director of medical education at Entrinsic Bioscience, the manufacturer of Enterade, said. "Incorporating Enterade as a supportive care agent helps patients improve their quality of life and helps them stay on their course of treatment by reducing (gastrointestinal) side effects. Our goal is to help patients feel better so they can fight harder throughout their cancer journey."

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