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Systemic Inflammation Can Be A Signal of Malnutrition In Cancer Patients

A recent study has discovered that neutrophil-to-lymphocyte ratio or NLR, as a measure of systemic inflammation, can be a signal of malnutrition among hospitalized cancer patients.

Systemic Inflammation Can Be A Signal of Malnutrition In Cancer Patients
Photo: Cancer Patient in Chemo Session | InStyleHealth

What Is Systemic Inflammation?

Systemic Inflammation is defined as a serious medical condition in which there is inflammation throughout the whole body. This condition may be caused by a severe bacterial infection (sepsis), trauma, or pancreatitis. Systemic inflammation is marked by rapid heart rate, low blood pressure, low or high body temperature, and low or high white blood cell count.

What Are Common Signs of Systemic Inflammation?

Common signs of systemic inflammation include fatigue, fever, and joint and muscle pain. Systemic inflammation is also known for causing symptoms that are considered atypical or abnormal. Such symptoms can include things like balance issues, insulin resistance, muscle weakness, eye problems, skin issues, and many others.

Experts have conducted a cross-sectional analysis of 119 unselected cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy and/or surgery. Malnutrition was evaluated using the 2002 nutritional risk screening or NRS 2002 tool. All of the participants contributed venous blood samples for detection of systemic inflammation.

The area under the curve or AUC analysis has found that an NLR value of 5.0 was the optimal cutoff to differentiate participants according to their nutritional risk. AUC was 0.72, with sensitivity and specificity values of 60.9% and 76.4% correspondingly.

There were 66 participants who fell below the threshold, while 53 had NLR >5. The baseline demographic variables were comparable between the groups. NRS 2002 discovered that the latter group ha a significantly higher prevalence of nutritional risk.

The risk was reflected in significant anthropometric differences between groups, with patients with NLR >5 showing significantly lower body weight and body mass index (BMI).  The C-reactive protein was also significantly raised in patients with high NLR, further underscoring a potential linkage between inflammation and nutritional status.

Utilizing logistic regression analysis has confirmed that NLR >5 enhance the likelihood of nutritional risk by around 70%.

Researchers said that, “In hospitalized, unselected cancer patients, systemic inflammation, when measured by blood NLR, was associated with nutritional risk. According to our findings, the cutoff point for NLR in predicting nutritional risk is >5, and more studies may use this value to predict clinical outcomes during cancer patient hospitalization.”


Source: Sci Rep 2021;11:17120

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