Cancer Diseases and Conditions

Why Does Cancer Cause Weight Loss?


Causes of Cancer Cachexia

The precise cause of Cachexia (a cancer-induced wasting syndrome) isn’t fully understood. Although cancer cells consume a lot of energy when they are constantly replicating, a human fetus grows faster and consumes more energy than cancer cells, but pregnant women don’t waste away. Small tumors can also cause cachexia. We can, therefore, conclude that the energy consumed by cancer isn’t nearly responsible for causing rapid weight loss.

But cancer is known to suppress appetite by causing changes in the regions of the brain responsible for controlling appetite. Cancer also causes changes in taste. However, studies have proven that reduced appetite alone can’t explain the weight loss experienced by cancer sufferers. Furthermore, not everyone with cachexia has a poor appetite.

What’s more important is the effect of cancer on metabolism. Cancer is known to increase metabolism significantly. Individuals who have cancer have heightened energy consumption. Cancer promotes the breakdown of fat and muscle to cater for increasing energy needs. This fat and muscle breakdown is significantly different to that experienced during deliberate starvation or weight loss.