Fish Oil Lessens Cancer's Damage

Fish oil does some amazing things, and it is a wonderful source of Omega-3, a fat that is essential for good health. A new study has found one more advantage, particularly important to patients with cancer: Low doses of fish oil on a regular basis may help cancer sufferers stabilize their weight or even spur gains.

Animal studies and some clinical investigations have suggested omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oils may protect against cachexia, as weight loss related to a chronic disease is called. Omega-3 fats help in three important ways:

  • They inhibit the secretion of inflammatory compounds
  • Fatty acids block factors that stimulate the growth of tumors that may promote cachexia
  • Omega-3 fats may slow protein degradation and fat breakdown

In the current study, 43 patients with moderate to severe malnutrition were prescribed high doses of omega-3 fatty acid supplements. The dose depended the individual's weight. For example, a person weighing about 150 pounds would take 11 1-gram capsules per day. The capsules were divided into two doses, taken with breakfast and lunch. Researchers began the study with twice the dosage, but reduced it because many patients were unwilling or unable to take so many capsules.

Among the 36 participants who took at least some capsules, six were able to gain more than 5 percent of their body weight or achieve their normal weight, 24 stabilized their weight and six other patients lost more than 5 percent of their body weight.

Yahoo News August 6, 2004

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