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Fish Oil Helps Prevent Muscle Loss in Cancer Patients Undergoing Chemotherapy

Cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy may be able to avoid muscle loss that occurs during the treatment by consuming omega-3 rich fish oil, a new research suggests.

Cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy often experience a loss of muscle mass and weight. According to the National Cancer Institute, 20-40 percent of cancer patients die from malnutrition as opposed to the tumor.

Researchers from the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada, have revealed that daily doses of fish oil for lung cancer patients improve the efficiency of chemotherapy and help prevent muscle loss that commonly occurs.

The trial involved 16 patients who took fish oil containing 2.2 grams of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) per day and 24 patients who did not.

The researchers found that 69 percent of patients taking fish oil maintained or gained muscle mass compared to 29 percent from the group who didn’t receive the fish oil. Patients who did not take fish oil lost an average of 2.3 kilograms whereas patients receiving fish oil maintained their weight.

“Fish oil may prevent loss of weight and muscle by interfering with some of the pathways that are altered in advanced cancer. This holds great promise because currently there is no effective treatment for cancer-related malnutrition,” said Dr. Vera Mazurak, from the University of Alberta, who led the study.

She added that fish oil may be beneficial to patients with other forms of cancer and other chronic diseases that are associated with malnutrition, as well as to elderly individuals who are at risk for muscle loss.

The research was published online in CANCER, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Cancer Society.

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