Carla named to Royal Society of Canada

 Half of people with cancer have low muscle mass when they are diagnosed, but this is hidden by body weight. Carla Prado, nutrition researcher in the Faculty of Agricultural, Life & Environmental Sciences, and Campus Alberta Innovates Chair in Nutrition, Food and Health, discovered that low muscle mass is present for all cancer stages and types, but is only detectable by measuring body composition.

Carla named to Royal Society of Canada

Carla Prado, whose research focuses on the relationship between muscle mass, nutrition and cancer survival, was named to the Royal Society of Canada's College of New Scholars, Artists and Scientists. (Photo: Faculty of ALES)

“Low muscle mass leads to disability, cancer recurrence, treatment delays or discontinuation, surgical complications and reduced survival,” said Prado, who is also a member of the Cancer Research Institute of Northern Alberta and the Alberta Diabetes Institute. “Because abnormalities in body composition alter people’s nutritional needs, it is important to explore how energy needs change with body composition.”

Prado, who directs the Human Nutrition Research Unit, the largest research and training facility in Canada for the study of body composition assessment, showed that current recommendations for energy intake only meet the needs of half of people with cancer, which can cause unfavourable weight and muscle changes. 

“Preventing and treating low muscle mass can avoid complications and improve overall health,” said Prado, who is also a member of the Women and Children's Health Research Institute.

She added, “I have always had an amazingly supportive environment, which allowed my research and leadership to thrive. I feel incredibly grateful for this distinguished recognition and that it can be used for putting the spotlight in the nutrition field in our nation.”

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