Diagnosed with Cancer? Your two greatest challenges are understanding cancer and understanding possible side effects from chemo and radiation.  Knowledge is Power!

Learn about conventional, complementary, and integrative therapies.

Dealing with treatment side effects? Learn about evidence-based therapies to alleviate your symptoms.

Click the orange button to the right to learn more.

Fish Oil Reduces Cachexia in Cancer Patients

Share Button

“Fish oil supplementation, however, increased body weight and also returned feeding energy expenditure and fat oxidation to levels similar to that of controls.”

If conventional oncology could treat cancer without collateral damage aka side effects then there would be no need for integrative therapies such as omega 3 fatty acids aka fish oil. Unfortunately chemotherapy can cause the serious side effect called cachexia or muscle-wasting.

According to the study linked and excepted below, fish oil can stop this serious side effect and may even enhance the efficacy of your chemotherapy.

I am both a long-term multiple myeloma survivor and MM cancer coach. My personal experience combined with years of research and working with cancer patients has taught me that treating complicated, aggressive cancers requires both conventional (FDA approved) and evidence-based, non-conventional therapies such as fish oil. In short, cancer patients need every evidence-based weapon they can get their hands on.

I supplement with Life Extension Super Omega 3 because it has been evaluated and approved by Consumerlab.com.

Have you been diagnosed with cancer? Are you experiencing cachexia? Please scroll down the page, post a question or comment and I will reply to you ASAP.

Thank you,

David Emerson

  • Multiple Myeloma Survivor
  • MM Cancer Coach
  • Director PeopleBeatingCancer

Recommended Reading:

Fish Oil and Cancer

“Fish oil is a dietary supplement that contains omega-3 fatty acids, particularly eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), though in doses that vary widely among brands…

Fish oil is a very popular supplement, with its use estimated among 7.8% of adults and 1.1% of children in the United States during a given 30-day period.2 Research has evaluated the role of fish oil to reduce cancer incidence and improve cancer outcomes by preventing toxicity or treating cancer- or treatment-associated side effects…

Anticancer Treatment: Outcomes and Quality of Life

Multiple trials demonstrated that fish oil supplementation can improve outcomes during or after cancer treatment, such as improved response rate, increased function, and improved quality of life…


Numerous studies have evaluated the effect of fish oil supplementation on cachexia because conventional nutritional support often fails to increase body weight among patients with advanced cancer.19 One study demonstrated that patients with cancer had a greater resting energy expenditure, fat oxidation, and glucose intolerance compared with healthy controls. Fish oil supplementation, however, increased body weight and also returned feeding energy expenditure and fat oxidation to levels similar to that of controls.

A systematic review published in 2011 did not find enough evidence to support a benefit of omega-3 fatty acid supplementation and improvement in cachexia.20 Several studies since then, however, demonstrated that the addition of fish oil as part of a nutritional supplement resulted in increased or stabilized body weight, as well as improved appetite and function.21-23 Fish oil supplementation also resulted in increased muscle mass compared with placebo in one study.22Another study also showed increased energy and protein intake, and improved fatigue and neuropathy, among patients who received an EPA-containing oral nutritional support compared with an isocaloric diet.

Protective Effects of Omega-3 Fatty Acids in Cancer-Related Complications

“Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) are considered immunonutrients and are commonly used in the nutritional therapy of cancer patients due to their ample biological effects.

Omega-3 PUFAs play essential roles in cell signaling and in the cell structure and fluidity of membranes. They participate in the resolution of inflammation and have anti-inflammatory and antinociceptive effects…

Cancer patients undergo complications, such as anorexia-cachexia syndrome, pain, depression, and paraneoplastic syndromes. Interestingly, the 2017 European Society for Clinical Nutrition and Metabolism (ESPEN) guidelines for cancer patients only discuss the use of omega-3 PUFAs for cancer-cachexia treatment, leaving aside other cancer-related complications that could potentially be managed by omega-3 PUFA supplementation.

This critical review aimed to discuss the effects and the possible underlying mechanisms of omega-3 PUFA supplementation in cancer-related complications…


Since the 1970s, omega-3 PUFAs have been a subject of multiple investigations due to their ability to suppress inflammatory processes. In recent years, it has become possible to identify some of the mechanisms of action of these molecules besides the potential molecular targets.

As can be seen throughout this critical review, an omega-3 supplementation is widely employed in cancer patients, mainly as an adjunctive treatment.

The identification of pro-resolution mediators derived from omega-3 fatty acids opened up a variety of therapeutic possibilities for different pathologies. More recently, the identification of free fatty acid receptors as therapeutic targets for omega-3 PUFAs also revealed a plethora of beneficial opportunities.

Importantly, it is imperative to emphasize that, in 2018, Omegaven® (Fresenius Kabi, Germany) was approved by the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) for parenteral nutrition in cholestasis, demonstrating that it is important to consider omega-3 fatty acids as a therapeutic option that is related to all regulatory functions, similar to a new pharmaceutical drug [].

Regarding the beneficial effects of omega-3 fatty acids in cancer-related complications, additional studies are still needed, mainly randomized clinical trials with omega-3 supplementation, due to the deficiency of clinical literature evidence.

There is also a lack of scientific evidence regarding whether omega-3 PUFAs are able to significantly prevent or address cancer-related complications, depending on the cancer stage, from dysplasia to carcinoma and metastasis.

In Figure 2, we attempted to summarize the possible pathways by which omega-3 PUFAs might promote favorable effects in cancer-related complications, such as pain, paraneoplastic syndrome, depression, and cachexia-anorexia syndrome. The definition of these mechanisms might also account for the development of novel strategies based on omega-3 PUFAs, contributing to an improvement of the life quality of cancer patients in the near future…”

Leave a Comment:

Add Your Reply