Fish Oil Prevents Weight and Muscle Loss in Cancer Patients

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Cancer patients who are taking chemotherapy are always worried about muscle wasting (cachexia) and weight loss.  Now, a small study suggests that supplementation with fish oil might prevent muscle wasting (cachexia) and weight loss. 

In the study, investigators randomized 40 newly diagnose NSCLC patients to receive either fish oil (EPA 2.2 g/day) or standard care (no intervention; n=24) while undergoing first-line chemotherapy for 10 weeks. 

The investigator found that about 69% of the patients who took fish oil gained or maintained muscle mass. In comparison, only 29% of patients in the control group maintained muscle mass.  

As a group, patients who received fish oil were able to maintain their weight whereas patients who received standard care lost an average of 2.3 kg. 

This is great news for cancer patients since there is no effective non-pharmacological treatment for cancer-related malnutrition.  Furthermore, fish oil is safe and nontoxic with no adverse effects.  

This benefit of fish oil might also extend to malnutrition due to other types of cancers/chronic diseases and possibly to elderly individuals who are at risk for muscle loss. 

Source: Cancer.  Published online Feb 28, 2011. 

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