Omega-3 fatty acids have long been touted in the health community for their heart-health benefits. However, if you’re a lung cancer patient, you may have another motivation for helping yourself to another portion of salmon at dinner. A recent study has proven that supplementing with omega-3 rich fish oil can reduce the inflammation and oxidative stress of chemotherapy, as well as increasing body weight in lung cancer patients.
What are Omega 3 Fatty Acids? What Health Benefits Do They Provide?
Oregon State University states omega-3 fatty acids from fish oil are comprised of two long-chain, polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA): EPA (Eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (Docosahexaenoic acid). Omega-3’s have been linked to a reduction in inflammation and oxidative stress levels within the body. Oxidative stress is the burden of the total amount of free radicals within the body. Free radicals occur from environmental toxins in our food, water and air. Inflammation within the body occurs as a result of many factors, one of which is oxidative stress. Inflammation causes tissues in the body to swell and become inflamed. It damages the body, in addition to causing illness and pain.
How Can Omega-3’s From Fish Oil Improve the Quality of Life in Lung Cancer Patients?
Lung cancer patients have higher levels of oxidative stress caused by chemotherapy-associated oxidative stress.
A 2011 study documented in the British Journal of Nutrition (July 2012), discovered a link between PUFAs and reduced inflammation and oxidative stress levels and improved nutrition in lung cancer patients. A total of 33 patients undergoing chemotherapy with advanced stage, inoperable, non-small-cell lung cancer were divided into two groups. One group received four capsules of fish oil containing 510 mg of EPA and 340 mg of DHA (a total of 850 mg); the other group received 850 mg of a placebo for 66 days.
While receiving chemotherapy, patients’ inflammation and oxidative stress were measured on day eight, day 22 and day 66. The inflammation and oxidative levels were measured in both groups. Researchers discovered the omega-3 group showed a significant increase in body weight and dramatically lowered inflammatory marker levels, specifically C-reactive protein and IL-6 levels—two mechanisms that are elevated within the body from inflammation—during chemotherapy. This finding solidified PUFA’s anti-inflammatory properties.
The plasma reactive oxygen species levels increased in the placebo group, but did not increase in the omega-3 group. Also, hydroxynonenal levels increased in the placebo group, but remained steady in the omega-3 group. Elevated plasma reactive oxygen species and hydroxynonenal are associated with oxidative stress.
The researchers concluded that “the anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidative properties of EPA and DHA from fish oil could be considered a preliminary goal in anti-cachectic (anti-wasting therapy).”
If you are suffering from lung cancer, incorporating omega-3 fatty acids fish oil supplements can benefit your health and overall quality of life. Remember, always talk to your doctor before changing your diet.
To learn more about healthy eating while living with lung cancer, download this free guide today.Stephen Cummings