Fish Oil Prevents Muscle Loss, Malnutrition During Chemo?


According to a new study, cancer patients who are undergoing chemotherapy may be able to avoid muscle loss and malnutrition by taking fish oil supplements.

In the study, which appears in the latest online edition of Cancer, researchers note that the omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil supplements go a long way in helping people suffering from the disease cope.

"Fish oil may prevent loss of weight and muscle by interfering with some of the pathways that are altered in advanced cancer," study author Dr. Vera Mazurak, of the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada, said in a news release. "This holds great promise, because currently there is no effective treatment for cancer-related malnutrition."

While attempting to identify exactly what kind of impact fish oil supplements had on cancer patients, the researchers involved in the study gave 16 cancer patients a daily dose of 2.2 grams of a specific type of omega-3 fatty acid called eicosapentaenoic (EPA). The patients, who at the time were undergoing a 10-week chemotherapy regimen, were then checked out periodically to determine the impact of the supplements.

As it turned out, the patients who took the fish oil throughout the chemotherapy treatment experienced less weight loss, and felt better overall than those who did not. In fact, nearly 70 percent of the people that took the fish oil either kept the muscle mass they had prior to the chemotherapy beginning, or actually gained muscle.

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