Summary: Omega-3 fatty acids in the diet lead to reduced inflammatory response, improved quality of life and potential cancer prevention effects. Additionally there is potential increased response rate to chemotherapy and potential reduction in dose limiting chemotherapy toxicity.
Purpose of review: Significant achievements have been obtained in cancer treatment, but the clinical relevance of drug approach in daily practice remains questionable due to the high costs, limited efficacy, and negligible influence on quality of life. A new concept is emerging which is based on the early combination of chemotherapy and nutrition therapy.
Recent findings: Inflammation dictates tumour initiation, progression and growth. Omega-3 fatty acids exert anti-inflammatory effects, and therefore recent studies investigated their role in cancer prevention, in cancer cachexia treatment and in enhancement of antitumour therapies. Limited evidence suggests a role for omega-3 fatty acid supplementation in cancer prevention, but they have been shown to preserve muscle mass and function in cancer patients even during active treatment. During chemotherapy, omega-3 fatty acids may contribute to a reduced inflammatory response, but whether cancer treatment toxicity can be prevented remains to be assessed. Finally, small studies showed that omega-3 fatty acids increase response rate to chemotherapy.
Summary: Combination of chemotherapy and omega-3 supplementation appears an effective strategy to enhance the clinical outcome of cancer patients in their curative and palliative clinical trajectory.