Omega-3 fatty acids are also called essential acids since the body cannot produce them on its own. There are three types of omega-3 fatty acids, namely, alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). Since the body does not produce these acids, we rely heavily on food sources for them. They are known to offer a wide range of benefits to humans including a better cardiovascular health, stable blood glucose levels, reduced inflammation, mood enhancer, better immunity, and reduced risk for cancer and recurrence of the same
Here is a quick list of foods which naturally have these fatty acids:
Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Cancer
While the benefits of omega-3 fatty acids vary according to the type of cancer, here is a list of the overall benefits of omega-3:
- Better immune response
- Reduced occurrence of certain types of cancer
- Increases the efficacy of chemotherapy
- Helps maintain muscle mass and weight
- In conjunction with chemotherapy, it can delay the progression of tumor
- Patients usually experience improved tolerance to chemotherapy
- The omega-3 fatty acid EPA shows some anti-tumor and anti-cachetic properties
- Overall improvement in the quality of life
Currently, all studies conducted to analyze the effect of omega-3 fatty acids on cancer prevention are inconclusive. However, some studies indicate that omega-3s might be associated with reduced risks of colon and breast cancer. On the other hand, some studies also suggest that omega-3s might increase the risk of prostate cancer. Also, a certain type of omega-3 can reduce the effect of a chemotherapy drug – cisplatin.
- Omega-3 fatty acids are found naturally in many fish and a few seeds and walnuts.
- Omega-3s are widely available as supplements.
- While omega-3s are generally considered safe, a few cautions and interactions are noted.
- Healthkart Advanced Omega-3 1000mg – 60 Capsules – Amazon Link
- MuscleXP Fish Oil 1000 Omega 3-90 Softgels (Purified Free From Mercury) – Amazon Link
- Wow Omega-3 Fish Oil 1000 mg Triple Strength 550 mg EPA 350 mg – 60 Capsules – Amazon Link
References & More Information
- Credit: Beyond Conventional Care Therapies
- ZenOnco.io Integrative Oncology Cancer Care
- Dr. Axe. 15 Omega-3 Foods Your Body Needs Now.
- WebMD. The Facts on Omega-3 Fatty Acids. Viewed September 22, 2018.
- Colomer R, Moreno-Nogueira JM, Garcia-Luna PP, et al. N-3 fatty acids, cancer and cachexia: a systematic review of the literature. Br J Nutr 2007; 97: 823 – 31.
- Dewey A, Baughan C, Dean T, et al. Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA, an omega-3 fatty acid from fi sh oils) for the treatment of cancer cachexia. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2007;(1):CD004597.
- de Luis DA, Izaola O, Aller R, et al. A randomized clinical trial with two omega 3 fatty acid enhanced oral supplements in head and neck cancer ambulatory patients. Eur Rev Med Pharmacol Sci 2008; 12: 177 – 81.
- Fearon KC, Von Meyenfeldt MF, Moses AG, et al. Effect of a protein and energy dense N-3 fatty acid enriched oral supplement on loss of weight and lean tissue in cancer cachexia: a randomised double blind trial. Gut 2003; 52: 1479 – 86.
- Balance the Qi. Journal of the Society for Integrative Oncology, Summer 2009, Volume 7, Number 3.
- Brasky TM, Darke AK, Song X, Tangen CM, Goodman PJ, Thompson IM, Meyskens FL Jr, Goodman GE, Minasian LM, Parnes HL, Klein EA, Kristal AR. Plasma phospholipid fatty acids and prostate cancer risk in the SELECT trial. J Natl Cancer Inst. 2013 Aug 7;105(15):1132-41. doi: 10.1093/jnci/djt174. Epub 2013 Jul 10
- Jacob Schor, ND, FABNO. Does Fish oil prevent chemotherapy from working? Denver Naturopathic. February 18, 2016.
- Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center’s About Herbs website: Omega-3
- TRC Natural Medicines website (subscription is required): in-depth information, ratings of effectiveness and safety and evaluation of specific omega-3 fatty acid products
- Consumer Labs: Product Review (subscription required): Fish Oil and Omega-3 and -7 Fatty Acids
- Lise Alschuler, ND, FABNO, and Karolyn Gazella: The Definitive Guide to Cancer, 3rd Edition: An Integrative Approach to Prevention, Treatment, and Healing
- 14. Ted Schettler, MD, MPH: The Ecology of Breast Cancer: The Promise of Prevention and the Hope for Healing