Here are some ideas
Fish Oil. It is a something most every cancer patient should take anyways and it is shown in many studies to be a significant tool in fighting cancer cachexia. There is a section on the site devoted to fish oil that includes many links.
Some additional support:
The effect of an oral nutritional supplement enriched with fish oil on weight-loss in patients with pancreatic cancer. Br J Cancer 81:80–86. Barber MD, Ross JA, Voss AC, Tisdale MJ, Fearon KCH (1999) "...this study suggests that an EPA-enriched supplement may reverse cachexia in advanced pancreatic cancer."
Fish oil and treatment of cancer cachexia Attilio Giacosa and Mariangela Rondanelli.
Genes Nutr. 2008 April; 3(1): 25–28." In this regard, n-3 fatty acids in dose of at least 1.5 g/day for a prolonged time to advanced cancer patients with weight loss, are associated with an improvement of clinical, biological and functional parameters and with amelioration of quality of life."
β-Hydroxy β-Methylbutyrate, Glutamine, and Arginine as an option
Nutritional Treatment for Acquired Immunodeficiency Virus-Associated Wasting Using β-Hydroxy β-Methylbutyrate, Glutamine, and Arginine: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Study
JPEN J Parenter Enteral Nutr.2000; 24: 133-139.
"At 8 weeks, the subjects consuming the HMB/Arg/Gln mixture gained 3.0 ± 0.5 kg of body weight while those supplemented with the placebo gained 0.37 ± 0.84 kg. The BW gain in the HMB/Arg/Gln-treated subjects was predominantly lean body mass (2.55 ± 0.75 kg) compared with the placebo-supplemented subjects who lost lean mass (-0.70 ± 0.69 kg)."
Reversal of cancer-related wasting using oral supplementation with a
combination of beta-hydroxy-beta-methylbutyrate, arginine, and
"CONCLUSIONS: The mixture of HMB/Arg/Gln was effective in increasing
fat-free mass (FFM) of advanced (stage IV) cancer."
Supplementation with a combination of beta-hydroxy-beta-methylbutyrate
(HMB), arginine, and glutamine is safe and could improve hematological
"RESULTS: Across the 3 studies, HMB, arginine, and glutamine
supplementation was not associated with any adverse indicators of
health. The only significant changes noted were positive indicators of
health status. HMB, arginine, and glutamine supplementation was
associated with an improvement in emotional profile (p = .05), a
decreased feeling of weakness (p = .03), and increased red blood cells,
hemoglobin, hematocrit, lymphocytes, and eosinophils (p < .05) when
compared with placebo-supplemented subjects. ....... CONCLUSION: These
results show that HMB, arginine, and glutamine can be safely used to
treat muscle wasting associated with AIDS and cancer. "
This study disputes it, although the HIV study above was very supportive:
Dietary treatment of rheumatoid cachexia with -hydroxy--methylbutyrate,glutamine and arginine: A randomised controlled trial
"Dietary supplementation with HMB/GLN/ARG is better tolerated but not
more effective in reversing cachexia in RA patients compared to the
mixture of other non-essential amino acids used as placebo."
[beta]-Hydroxy-[beta]-Methylbutyrate Supplementation in
Critically Ill Trauma Patients
"These data suggest that supplementation with HMB alone may improve
nitrogen balance in critically injured adult patients "
Year-long Changes in Protein Metabolism in Elderly Men and Women Supplemented With a Nutrition Cocktail of β-Hydroxy-β-methylbutyrate (HMB), L-Arginine, and L-Lysine. Shawn Baier, Darcy Johannsen, Naji Abumrad, John A. Rathmacher, Steven Nissen, and Paul Flakoll. Journal of Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition, Vol. 33, No. 1, 71-82 (2009)
"Conclusions: Consumption of a simple amino acid-related cocktail increased protein turnover and lean tissue in elderly individuals in a year-long study."
This "off beat" article, The effect of beta-hydroxy-beta-methylbutyrate on growth, mortality, and carcass qualities of broiler chickens showed chickens increased body weight and had a lower incidence of "sudden death syndrome."
This article is easy to read and makes it clear that arginine is
critical in immune response:
Arginine Immunonutrition in Critically Ill Patients: Arginine and the
Do cancer patients have lower levels of arginine?
Plasma arginine concentrations are reduced in cancer patients: evidence
for arginine deficiency?
"This suggests that decreased arginine availability is a specific
feature of the presence of cancer. These disturbances in arginine
metabolism could contribute to the cascade of metabolic events leading
to cancer cachexia."
However, arginine can occasionally do the opposite:
Arginine and Fish Oil May Help Cancer Patients Undergoing Chemotherapy
Whey protein is also used to prevent cachexia.
This US patent has some good information. Method for the prevention and treatment of cachexia and anorexia
Cancer Cachexia in a Nutshell.