Diets high in fish oil ‘help maintain weight during chemotherapy’

Monday, February 28, 2011

WASHINGTON - A new study has found that fish oil may help cancer patients-who undergo tremendous weight loss during chemotherapy-regain weight.

Researchers suspect that supplementing the diet with fish oil-which contains omega-3 fatty acids such as eicosapentaenoic acid-may help patients maintain or gain muscle.

To test the hypothesis, Vera Mazurak, of the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada, led a team that compared the effects of fish oil with that of standard care (no intervention) on weight, muscle, and fat tissue in newly referred non-small cell lung cancer patients.

The trial involved 16 patients who took fish oil and 24 patients who did not. The study ran until patients completed their first-line (initial) chemotherapy treatments, which lasted about 10 weeks.

Muscle and fat were periodically measured using computed tomography images. Blood was collected and weight was recorded at the start of the study and throughout chemotherapy.

Patients who did not take fish oil lost an average of 2.3 kilograms whereas patients receiving fish oil maintained their weight.

Patients with the greatest increase in eicosapentaenoic acid concentration in the blood following fish oil supplementation had the greatest gains in muscle. Sixty-nine percent of patients in the fish oil group gained or maintained muscle mass.

Comparatively, only 29 percent of patients in the standard care group maintained muscle mass, and overall, patients in this group lost 1 kilogram of muscle. No difference in total fat tissue was observed between the two groups.

The findings have been published online in Cancer, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Cancer Society. (ANI)

Filed under: Science and Technology

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