A salt-restricted diet helps against the harmful side effect of a cancer drug

These are anti-cancer drugs with VEGF inhibitors, of which high blood pressure is a known and common side effect. The low-salt diet meant that some of the patients did not have to take antihypertensives. Others took significantly lower doses.

Lifestyle intervention

Researchers Dr. Leni van Doorn and Dr. Jorie Versmissen recently published the study in British Journal of Cancer. The study is unique: a study is rarely done in which the effect of lifestyle interventions on the cardiovascular side effects of cancer therapies is prospectively investigated.

The patient group studied by Van Doorn and Versmissen is complicated. “Patients who use these VEGF inhibitors no longer recover. The treatment can sometimes be given for a longer period. You can then consider whether it is realistic to ask this patient group to follow a salt-restricted diet. But we saw that this group of patients is very motivated. They like to keep control and like to be able to do something themselves to have to take less medication.”

More pleasant

Some participants continued the salt-restricted diet after the study. “They indicated that they felt much more comfortable because of the salt restriction. They now go to the Schiedam baker who baked salt-free bread for our study,” tell Versmissen and Van Doorn. Dietitian Wesley Visser, who coordinated the study from the dietetics department, was amazed at the dedication shown by the study participants.

VEGF inhibitors or angiogenesis inhibitors inhibit the formation of new blood vessels in and to the tumor. As a result, it receives little or no blood, so that the tumor does not grow or spreads more slowly. The drugs are used in renal cell cancer, liver cancer and thyroid cancer, among other things, and are prescribed to thousands of people every year.


However, a common side effect is high blood pressure, which can then cause damage to the heart and blood vessels. Sometimes that blood pressure is so high that the anti-cancer medication has to be stopped temporarily. “Our study now shows that high blood pressure can be prevented with a salt-restricted diet. As a result, no or less use of blood pressure medication is required and anti-cancer treatment can be continued safely,” say Versmissen and Van Doorn.

49 people participated in the study, 16 of whom developed high blood pressure due to the VEGF inhibitors. They followed the low-salt diet, in which they were not allowed to consume more than 4 grams of salt per day. ‘That is quite strict, but none of the participants found it so hard that they stopped. We received positive reactions from a number of

Over time, high blood pressure decreased by an average of 7 millimeters of mercury (mmHg). Twelve patients were satisfied with the low-salt diet and did not need to take any additional medication. In two participants, the antihypertensive medication could be reduced and discontinued during the course of the study. Reason enough to implement the results of the study in clinical practice, the researchers believe.

By: National Care Guide


Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Recent News

Editor's Pick