A recent study which has been published in the journal JAMA Oncology which recommends that those patients who are about to get a chemotherapy regimen must refrain from consuming fish oil supplements a day or two before and after the completion of the treatment. The study has revealed that cancer patients get resistant to chemotherapy.

The American Cancer Society has revealed that over 1.6 million people in the US could be diagnosed for cancer. Most of the patients will be adopting changes in their lifestyle besides receiving the conventional cancer treatment to increase the efficacy of the ultimate treatment.

Fish oil supplements can cause cancer patients to become resistant to chemotherapy

Study Co Author Dr. Emilie E. Voest who is attached with the Netherlands Cancer Institute in Amsterdam said, “There is a growing concern that simultaneous use of supplements and anticancer drugs may negatively influence treatment outcome.”

The study revealed that while Omega-3 fatty acid is the most common fish oil supplement given to about 20% of cancer patients in the US, two other fatty acids 16:4(n-3) and 12S-HHT provoke chemotherapy resistance in lab mice when they were given little quantities of fatty acids.

Fatty Acids are present in fish oil obtained from herring, mackerel, or consumed in fish oil supplements. While 16:4(n-3) was present in all of these fish oil supplements, 12S-HHT was not.

The study involved healthy volunteers and they had their 16:4(n-3) levels in their blood after taking 10 milliliters (ml) of fish oil daily via three fish oil supplements or taken through eating salmon, tuna, cured herring or smoked mackerel.

The study revealed that the blood levels of 16:4(n-3) of volunteers shot up after taking supplements and the levels did not return to normal until 8 hours later. After 50-ml dose of fish oil, the 16:4(n-3) blood levels took longer to get back to normal.

Another survey was conducted in Netherlands at the University Medical Center Utrecht. It involved 118 cancer patients and showed that 30% of them took regular dose of fish oil supplements and 11% of them said they used Omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil supplements.

According to the authors, “Herein we show that fish oil contains substantial levels of 16:4(n-3), a fatty acid with potent chemotherapy-negating effects in preclinical models, and that intake of low doses of fish oil interferes with chemotherapy activity in mice,” they said, and then added that “Ingestion of the recommended daily amount of fish oil by healthy volunteers rapidly increased 16:4(n-3) plasma levels. Since low concentrations of 16:4(n-3) were still active in mice, and since 11% of patients undergoing cancer therapy in our center used omega-3 supplements, these findings may have important clinical implications.”

However, they add, “Further evidence on the relation between fish consumption and chemotherapy activity is desired, we would currently also recommend avoiding herring and mackerel in the 48 hours surrounding chemotherapy exposure.”



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