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.