Background: Anorexia and cachexia are well-known sequelae of cancer that contribute to morbidity and mortality. In several studies in patients with non-hormone-sensitive tumors, synthetic progestogens were shown to exert beneficial effects on appetite and weight loss. The current study was undertaken to investigate the effects of medroxyprogesterone acetate (MPA) on food intake, body composition, and resting energy expenditure (REE).
Methods: Fifty-four patients with non-hormone-sensitive cancer, generally characterized by substantial weight loss and hypermetabolism, received either MPA, 500 mg, or placebo twice daily for 12 weeks (double-blind study). Food intake was measured by dietary history, body composition was assessed by deuterium dilution (fat mass, fat-free mass), and REE was obtained by indirect calorimetry.
Results: Compared with placebo, 12 weeks of MPA led to an increase in energy intake (between-group difference, 426 kcal/day; P = 0.01) that was significantly associated (r = 0.68, P = 0.003) with an increase in fat mass (between-group difference, 2.5 kg; P = 0.009). Fat-free mass was not significantly influenced. REE increased during MPA treatment: at 6 weeks, the between-group difference in change was 135 kcal/day (P = 0.009); after 12 weeks, this difference was 93 kcal/ day (P = 0.07).
Conclusions: The authors conclude that MPA is able to stimulate increased food intake significantly and to reverse fat loss concomitantly in patients with non-hormone-sensitive cancer.