Omega 3 Fatty Acids Prevent Cachexia in Lung Cancer Patients

Cachexia is the withering away of one’s body while in a frail state of health.  Acceleration of cachexia accompanies very poor health outcomes.  Preventing cachexia is a battle that must be won if any cancer treatment is to be successful.  A new study proves that DHA and EPA can prevent cachexia in lung cancer patients.  The authors stated, “Our data confirm that the continual assumption of EPA plus DHA determined an anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidative action which could be considered a preliminary goal in anti-cachectic therapy.”

The study was a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial in patients undergoing chemotherapy with inoperable lung cancer received a rather modest does of EPA (510 mg) and DHA (340 mg) per day over a 66 day period.  Those taking the omega 3 fatty acids significantly gained weight during the trial (the opposite of one’s body withering away).  Levels of inflammatory CRP and IL6 declined in the omega 3 group as the trial progressed, indicating significantly improved internal biochemistry resulting in anti-inflammatory action (cachexia is driven by excessive inflammation).  Furthermore, the omega 3 oils helped stabilize the anti-oxidant defense system, another important marker of improved health which would enable a person to better tolerate the toxic effects of chemotherapy.

In many ways medical cancer treatments are a game of chance – what will get killed first – the cancer or the patient?  Anything that bolsters the patient’s health improves odds of a successful outcome from medical treatment.  Other data that I have recently presented also shows that DHA itself acts to improve the killing of cancer cells, both by its direct anti-cancer properties and by its ability to help chemo drugs enter resistant cancer cells.

Thus, there are multiple advantages to utilizing DHA/EPA during cancer treatment, minimally to help maintain the nutritional well-being, as best we can, to prevent cachexia.  If we lived in a remotely normal world oncologists across the U.S. would routinely recommend DHA/EPA with all cancer treatment.  Many lives could be saved and their treatments would work better.

Friday, December 02, 2011  –  Byron Richards, CCN
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