Enlarged Spleen: Has anyone who has an enlarged... - CLL Support

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Enlarged Spleen

Westie11- profile image
34 Replies

Has anyone who has an enlarged spleen been told to change their diet? I have been researching and what i have read says to avoid red meat, dairy, ice cream and processed food.

I am due to see my specialist next week and will be starting treatment after being on W&W for over 10yrs. Just looking for some more information before i see specialist. Thanks

34 Replies
Big_Dee profile image

Hello Westie11-

Sounds like a guide to reduced consumption of foods which are "bad for you". If you are low on protein, hemoglobin, iron red blood cells like me, you may want to consider eating red meat which is the best source of protein and iron. All those blood cells are made of protein. The average adult male needs 62 grams of protein a day. If your body does not get enough protein, it robs protein from your muscles. This can be done without consuming ice cream or highly processed foods including red meat. I follow eat balanced diet with moderate exercise works for me.

Westie11- profile image
Westie11- in reply to Big_Dee


lankisterguy profile image

Hi Westue11,


I have no medical training, but was surprised at your research results about dietary changes to reduce an enlarged spleen, which might work OK for other non cancer causes.

But I would question whether they could affect the CLL surface markers that attract CLL cells to the spleen and cause the enlargement. The treatments developed and approved since 2013 (BTK inhibitors like Ibrutinib) specifically inhibit those surface marker and drive the CLL cells out of the spleen and lymph nodes.



CycleWonder profile image

I have an enlarged spleen and no change in diet was recommended by my CLL specialist. I eat/drink low fat dairy, lots of veggies, carbs with low glycemic index, chicken, fish, and red meat.

I avoid acetic foods that aggravate acid reflux. These include citrus fruits and tomato-based foods. Your enlarged spleen can contribute to acid reflux symptoms according to my gastroenterologist.

AussieNeil profile image

I agree with the other contributors; splenomegaly (an enlarged spleen) when you have CLL, is most often due to infiltration of CLL cells. After all, the spleen is a large, specialised node. If diet was a significant factor, would we have members mentioning how their spleen had returned to normal during treatment?


GMa27 profile image

I have had CLL 16 years -4 years remission. I eat red meat 6 times a week. Before treatment had an enlarged spleen. Never changed my diet. Hematologist never mentioned any restrictions. I eat cold cuts and lots of different foods. I guess moderation is a good idea. But most of my experts said don't punish myself and to enjoy.

If eliminating any foods make you feel better then go for it. Basically food does not directly effect CLL. Wish it were that simple.

Vlaminck profile image
Vlaminck in reply to GMa27

Thank you for your opinion. Without any specific info on this issue, I tend to believe diet can make a difference in most things, probably including CLL, if only slightly. I don't know the magic diet, sadly.

Westie11- profile image

Thank you all for your replies. Perhaps what I read is for people with an enlarged spleen caused by a reason that is not CLL. I have been suffering with bad tummy pains and sickness but not every day, which made me think it was food related. I will now wait the results of my CT scan next week. Thanks again everyone.

Newdawn profile image
NewdawnAdministrator in reply to Westie11-

Is there any possibility it’s your gallbladder that’s enlarged (too) because I certainly was advised to follow a low fat diet when my gallbladder was affected. My spleen enlarged to twice normal size before treatment but diet was never mentioned in relation to reducing it. With the infiltration of CLL cells, I can’t see the dietary connection.

Just another issue to consider, my liver also enlarged along with my spleen and that can be affected by high fat foods. May be a holistic picture they’re taking for you.



mia20 profile image
mia20 in reply to Newdawn

Before I had my gall bladder removed I kept to a low fat diet and it certainly reduced the pain I was experiencing also slimmed down nicely.

onu1tadi2 profile image
onu1tadi2 in reply to Newdawn

I get the feeling that not mentioning diet is almost an oath doctors, including specialists, have taken. They are not scientists. Eating a healthy diet is a given. Everywhere it is acknowledged that certain bad foods or ingredients have an accumulative effect in causing heart disease, cancer etc. Cold cuts and barbecued meat and junk foods, for example are dangerous to health and well being if eaten in large amounts and consistently over long periods. Since I got CLL I started to be more vigilant in what and how I eat. When I stray I notice the discomfort, fatigue, and additional side effects of medication that causes.

Edalv profile image
Edalv in reply to onu1tadi2

I agree most doctors don’t have the training or the understanding of what represents a good diet. However, I don’t think diet aline can solve the problem associated with an enlarged spleen. I believe a good balanced diet can help in many other ways to stay as healthy as possible. That’s my personal belief and that’s what I practice, but is not a recommendation, because what works for me may not work for someone else… peace 🙏

onu1tadi2 profile image
onu1tadi2 in reply to Edalv

yes I agree the enlarged spleen responds directly to meds that solve the problem and seems unrelated to diet

Vlaminck profile image
Vlaminck in reply to onu1tadi2

Amen. When my kids were in first few grades, the only kids that came with a bunch of sweets and processed foods for their lunch were the doctor's kids.

prbs2707 profile image

Hi. I agree with other contibutors. I did go veggie following diagnosis but this was because i wanted to eat more healthily. I follow the Mediterranean diet. My spleen was enlarged at the start (19 cm) but 6 months after starting on Obinutuzimap and Venetoclax it was back at 12cm. As aussieneil said my spleen was full of CLL cells. The drugs did their work and cleared them out and the spleen was back to normal. You mention you are about to start treatment so im sure they will sort your spleen out as well. So just eat a good balanced diet and drinks lots of water and let the drugs do their thing. Lots of luck with it all. Patrick

craterlake profile image

Hi Westie , avoiding those foods helps my overall health . like newdawn said they could cause problems with the gall bladder or liver there is a lot of documentation about those types of issues on a documentary called "forks over knives " ... but the only thing that reduced my huge spleen was the calquence .. it was a real relief to have it back to normal size . hope you have the same positive results . james

LeoPa profile image

There is zero evidence about red meat being harmful . When I read someone mentioning red meat as deleterious I instantly know that he is full of hot air. Yes I think that the other items mentioned should be avoided.

SofiaDeo profile image
SofiaDeo in reply to LeoPa

LeoPa, you know that making *absolute* statements regarding medically related things will just have me posting the research showing otherwise lololol. Like most things in nature, Murphy's Law raises its head, and there will always be some folk who are exquisitely sensitive to the effects of arachidonic acid and needs must modify their meat/arachidonic acid intake or "feel ill". As well as those who thrive on higher than average "intake" 😜 Remember we are *omnivores* not carnivores, with varying degrees of optimal nutrient type intake across the human experience.



Plus I think you are forgetting, at least in the US, meat isn't mostly grassfed, and the chemical alterations induced by grain fed, feedlot beef makes it less than optimal to eat high quantities of it.

craterlake profile image
craterlake in reply to SofiaDeo

Hi SofiaDeo , thanks for responding to LeoPa . he made a ridiculous statement . It is similar to the tobacco companies for years denying that smoking had anything to do with lung cancer ... hope you are doing well .. big changes for me coming in my treatment . blessings , james

LeoPa profile image
LeoPa in reply to SofiaDeo

Yes, we are omnivores. There have never been a naturally vegan human tribe anywhere on planet earth during evolution. Blanket statements about the harmfulness of red meat ask for a blanket rebuttal. They are nothing more than vegan propaganda. Which is mostly a 20th century fad. Having said that of course there may be individuals who for one reason or another do better on less meat (I only have to ask my wife) 🙂. As well as animals suboptimally raised. So the devil is again in the details.

onu1tadi2 profile image
onu1tadi2 in reply to LeoPa

red meat gets processed to some degree and chemicals are involved.

LeoPa profile image
LeoPa in reply to onu1tadi2

How exactly? I buy parts of slaughtered animals. Not treated in any way.

onu1tadi2 profile image
onu1tadi2 in reply to LeoPa

You can research how meat gets washed and prepared for retail in the agribiz. I take it you have a way of purchasing from a organic butcher? In Toronto we have Rowe Farms.

LeoPa profile image
LeoPa in reply to onu1tadi2

Prepacked maybe, but depends from local regulations. Father was a butcher. No treatment of fresh cuts.

BeckyLUSA profile image

It could be your enlarged spleen is pushing against your stomach. This can cause all kinds of digestive issues. I had this issue before treatment and lost a lot of weight. I was limited in the amount I could eat - so I tried to eat the most nutrient dense foods I could tolerate. Had no problem with red meats or anything else except for fried foods. Moderation , in my opinion, is key.

BeckyL USA

Westie11- profile image
Westie11- in reply to BeckyLUSA

Thank you Becky your symptoms sound exactly like mine. I do also find I am eating slightly smaller portions but think I will be glad to start treatment if it can resolve my tummy problems. Most days I am fine so I think it is a case of being careful that of what i eat. Thanks again.

ksteinberglewis profile image

It is always good to stay away from meat, dairy and processed food. I had an enlarged spleen and I think mine was caused by intense stress. We can’t forget the impact stress has on our condition. When I asked my doctor what else I could do to better support myself and she said to have a more alkaline diet

onu1tadi2 profile image
onu1tadi2 in reply to ksteinberglewis

I don't think dairy is bad in form of cheese or yogurt unless you have problem with gluten. I can eat loads of cheese but not drink milk. Heavy cream is OK. I think milk is processed in some way that makes it best to avoid .

ksteinberglewis profile image
ksteinberglewis in reply to onu1tadi2

If it works for you, that is great. Dairy adds to inflammation in general and especially in the joints

Pearlpink profile image

I had similar symptoms to Becky with my enlarged spleen and had to also eat more nutrient dense food.

Re diet. I’m a great believer also in eating non processed food and wide variety vegetables, herbs, spices etc. I was following it religiously because I had fatigue, and my wbc seemed stable so was very chuffed with myself! Thought I had cracked it. Unbeknownst to me, my spleen was becoming massive in the background! I wondered why I was getting problems after meals again.

So I’ve now started V&O. My spleen had become a big risk. I’m looking forward to it decreasing fully, and have already had my pulse oximetry improve with the pressure off my lung, and my discomfort after meals has improved.

So I also didn’t find any “magic diet”. I felt better eating a varied healthy diet, but my spleen was going to get bigger whatever I did. I was also told I would probably never need treatment 3 years ago when I was diagnosed, and a year ago, which was never helpful! We are all totally different, and it sounds like we are getting closer to knowing who is likely to need treatment quickly, and who will be lucky enough to never need it.

All the best.

mteaney profile image

About 5 or 6 years ago during my regular quarterly appointment and examination by my hemotologist, she detected an enlarged spleen and ordered an ultrasound to confirm. Because of scheduling problems, it took about a month to get an ultrasound appointment. While awaiting for my appointment, I did an internet search and an article saying that eating bell peppers can help shrink an enlarged spleen with red bell peppers being the best, green 2nd best, and yellow 3rd. For a couple weeks before the ultra sound, I ate raw red and green peppers - about 1 - 2 bell peppers pre day. I went to the ultrasound on the appointed day and the ultrasound, and later my hematologist examination revealed a normal sized spleen. For maybe 6 months or a year I made it a point to eat raw green or red peppers egularly and over time I kind of slacked off eating them but, to date, the enlarged spleen has not recurred.

mteaney profile image
mteaney in reply to mteaney

please excuse the typos.

craterlake profile image
craterlake in reply to mteaney

Hi Teaney , i know you mentioned this before but what treatment are you currently receiving . thanks . james

mteaney profile image

Ibrutinib. 420 mg

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