Fish oils help cancer patients improve nutrition and avoid weight loss

Fish oils help cancer patients improve nutrition and avoid weight loss
Fish oils can improve the nutrition status of cancer patients, reduce inflammation and have now been shown several times to reduce the risk of cachexia, with one study recommending their use with all chemotherapy protocols.
Fish Oils reduce the risk of cachexia
First, we had 2012 research (1) presented in the British Journal of Nutrition that found that supplementation using long-chain pmega-3 fatty acids from fish oils can help people with advanced lung cancer avoid cachexia when having chemotherapy. Cachexia is characterised by a progressive loss of muscle, functional impairment and shorter survival. Chemotherapy causes this downward spiral in seven per cent of patients. It is for this reason, Hospital dietitians recommend unhealthy diets full of sugar, fat, biscuits, cheeseburgers and chocolate cake!
Researchers at San Giovanni Battista Hospital in Turin, Italy conducted a placebo-controlled clinical trial and confirmed previous conclusions that the continual consumption of EPA plus DHA resulted in an anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidative action, which should be considered a preliminary goal in anti-cachectic therapy.
The nutrition levels of the patients taking the fish oils also improved significantly
In the research,advanced lung cancer patients were given a placebo or four capsules per day containing 510 mg of EPA and 340 mg of DHA, for 66 days. Patients underwent chemotherapy and were assessed at 8, 22 and 66 days. Researchers found that lung cancer patients receiving n-3 fatty acids, or omega-3 fatty acids increased body weight, decreased C-Reactive Protein (CRP) levels and IL-6 levels during chemotherapy, had lower levels of plasma reactive oxygen species levels and stable hydroxynonenal levels, compared to the patients in the placebo group.
So, apart from increasing anti-oxidative and anti-inflammatory action, patients increased body weight and had less risk of cachexia (potentially fatal weight loss due to the chemotherapy drugs). No doubt all oncologists treating lung cancer patients will advise fish oil supplementation.
A second study, this time a meta-review of studies between 2000 and 2015 from Portuguese researchers (2), felt that fish oils should be included with every chemotherapy protocol to avoid the risk of cachexia.

Boston College Biology Professor Dr. Thomas Seyfried has already pulled together a significant number of research studies on the same phenomenon, noting that attacked cancer cells produce the compound that causes cachexia during their anaerobic glycolysis. Fish oils can interrupt this compound's formation.

Go to: A review on managing Cachexia

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  1. Effect of n-3 fatty acids on patients with advanced lung cancer: a double-blind, placebo-controlled study; Brit J. Nutr; 2012 Jul;108(2):327-33. Concetta Finocchiaro et al -
  2. Should omega-3 fatty acids be used for adjuvant treatment of cancer cachexia? Clin Nutr ESPEN; 2018 Jun;25:18-25. 



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